First Nations University of Canada kicks off its annual spring powwow in Regina

Thousands gathered at the Regina Brandt Centre for a weekend of singing, drumming and dancing as the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) kicked off its annual spring competition powwow.

FNUniv president Jackie Ottman said the two-day event is about bringing people together for a celebration of various nations.

Read more: FNUniv Powwow had great turnout after 2-year hiatus

“It denotes hope, healing, community and unity,” she said. “This powwow is considered one of the top indoor powwows in Canada.”

For 46 years, the FNUniv hosted the powwow in the Queen City to honour the students and the community. The annual event is known to kick off powwow season in Saskatchewan where many are happy to reunite with friends and family.

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A.J. Felix, who is one of the elders for the FNUniv Spring Powwow, is also one of the most respected knowledge keepers in Canada. He said attending this gathering is a great honour and it enables him to remember those who are no longer here.

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“We had a hard winter. Our people lost members of (their) family (so) we come in and we remember them,” he said. “They are not around anymore but we remember them. They’re still around in spirit. We’re dancing in (the powwow) with them in spirit. That’s what powwow means.”

Read more: Sask. world champion powwow dancer to perform, represent Canada at Super Bowl

As Ottman and Felix describe, drumming signifies a heartbeat that touches people in a special way. Powwow drummer and singer Allan Bonaise from Littlepine First Nation said the drums are part of healing.

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“Without the drums, there’s no powwow,” he said. “The drums are speakers for our songs. Our songs are based (on) prayers.”

Powwow dancers compete in a variety of Indigenous dance styles, including Men’s Chicken, Men and Women’s Fancy, Men’s Grass, Women’s Jingle, and Men’s and Women’s Traditional and various dance specials.

Click to play video: 'First Nations University of Canada Powwow is back after two years'

First Nations University of Canada Powwow is back after two years

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