Northern Ontario is fortunate enough to be enriched with First Nations culture and traditions that have stood the test of time. One of these celebrated traditions is the Pow Wow.
Modern Pow Wows can be private or public events; they can be more traditional or competitive. Competitive Pow Wows will have dance and drum competitions, whereas traditional ones exclude competition.
When you attend a Pow Wow, you should be mindful and respectful of the celebration and its customs. Before you get to the list of where you can attend a Pow Wow this year, take a look at these guidelines that will help you gain as much as you can from the experience. The more you understand, the more you’ll appreciate and learn from Pow Wows and their significance.
Pow wow Etiquette
First and foremost
Listen to the Master of Ceremony. They will be sharing important information about certain dances, songs, and specific rules for that day.
If you came to dance, pay close attention to the MC—when the public is invited to dance, you won’t miss it!
Bring your own chairs
Most Pow Wows don’t have public seating. If there are seats, they may be reserved for dancers, singers, and drummers that are a part of the event.
No drugs or alcohol
Pow Wows are drug and alcohol-free events. These will not be tolerated. The only exception for this is tobacco for blessings or gifts.
Be mindful of participants
Pow Wows are beautiful, colourful, energetic events. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and forget that for some, there are high stakes in contests. Be sure you only participate when you’re invited to. If you have any questions, you should ask the MC or event coordinators to be sure you aren’t interrupting in any way.
Photos are given, not taken
Ask permission before you take photographs of dancers, singers, or drummers. Most are receptive to sharing their beautiful regalia, but it is considered rude to capture images before being given permission.
You should also refrain from taking photographs during prayers.
Every Pow Wow will be different; aside from being respectful, there is no standard when it comes to Pow Wows. If you’re a visitor, follow the instruction of the hosts and ask questions if you’re unsure.
Pow Wows are incredibly fun, vibrant events, but they are also very powerful and full of meaning. There will always be reading material on Pow Wows, but you’ll never truly understand the moving nature of these events until you attend one.
Attend, ask questions, learn and experience for yourself the magic of a people who rightfully refused to lose their traditions.
14-16: Lac Des Mille Lacs Pow Wow
29- July 1: Fort William Traditional Pow Wow
29- July 1: Couchiching First Nation Pow Wow
31-Sept. 2: Wabigoon Lake Annual Pow Wow
Did we miss any Pow Wows for Northwestern Ontario? Contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add them to our events calendar!