Posted: May 8, 2013

In celebration of Cultural Awareness Day on April 25, 2013 students, staff and community member filled the gymnasium, at North and South Esk Regional High School, in Sunny Corner for the second annual mini Powwow organized by Native Education Support Worker, Jennifer Black. Bright colors, beads, feathers, drumming and dancers of all ages set the scene for the celebration. Dressed in elaborate regalia, Sam “Derek” Barnaby from Listiguj First Nation was master of ceremonies, explaining that in years past natives were not permitted to celebrate their culture. Today gatherings called Powwows celebrate language, ceremony and dance. Barnaby also had a message about bullying. He said “ We need to be good to one another and we shouldn’t judge individuals by their dress or color of their skin.” Barnaby noted the four colors of the medicine wheel – black, white, red and yellow which symbolize the unity of different cultures. All powwows begin and end in a prayer. Elder Joseph Leonard Ward from Eel Ground welcomed students and guests with an opening prayer asking the Creator to bless everyone in attendance and to let only good spirits guide us. Encouraged to participate in the Round Dance, students, staff and dancers joined hands forming a circle as a symbol of friendship and unity. Students of Malian (Mary Ann) Ward, Mi’kmaq class read the Indian Prayer entitled “Oh Great Spirit” in Mi'kmaq and English. As is tradition at any powwow there was a head male and female dancer. Craig Isaac, a Grass Dancer from Listiguj and Emily Peter-Paul a Fancy Shawl Dancer from Metepenagiag filled these roles. The grass dance style is a very old dance rich in history that has become very popular. In the old days, it was the job of the grass dancer to flatten the grass in the arena before a powwow to ensure the grounds are suitable for dancing. The fancy shawl dance is said to imitate that of a butterfly with the regalia being a splash of vibrant color and fringe, each step so quick and light that the young woman looks as though she is literally dancing on air. Donna Augustine from Elsipogtog was on hand as a Jingle Dress Dancer. The jingle dress is also known as a medicine dress, not only because of the prayer and ceremony involved in its preparation but it takes 365 days to make as one tin cone is sewn to the dress every day for a year. Thunder Eagle Singers from Metepenagiag provided the drumming for all the dancers and spectators to enjoy. Member are George Paul (ECMA Award Winner), Ivan “Tulley” Paul, Mike Haddad and Mackenzie Sappier. The group welcomed grade 12 student, Nathaniel Nowlan to drum with them for part of the celebration. Shane Perley-Dutcher from the NB College of Craft & Design brought 3 students to demonstrate their skills with wood carving, basket-making and porcupine quill work. Jimmy Augustine from Elsipogtog was also on hand with native crafts providing souvenirs of the event.