After a two year hiatus the annual Woodland Cree Gathering is returning in a few weeks and organizers are expecting a big turnout.

The gathering has historically been a yearly meeting of the Woodland Cree communities of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, and Montreal Lake Cree Nation. Each year the communities would switch hosting duties, with La Ronge playing host this year.

“We are really excited to be hosting the Woodland Cree Gathering,” Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson told MBC Radio News.

The gathering runs from August 23-25 with a theme of reconnecting with our people, culture, history, and communities.

Chief Cook-Searson is excited to be back as the pandemic begins to wind down.

“It’s nice to see people coming together again,” she said. “It was a long pandemic and it just feels nice to come together as family and friends.”

Among the many events at the gathering is a political forum where the three communities can bring forward common issues.

According to LLRIB Chief Tammy Cook-Searson the common issues usually fall around treaty and inherent rights to land use and water.

However, Cook-Searson says there will be continued conversation on getting the Timber Bay Children’s Home recognized as an official Residential School.

“We want survivors to get the recognition they deserve and the three Woodland Cree communities have been pushing for that,” she said.

Several events are planned throughout the weekend which Cook-Searson says is open to anyone. These include sports tournaments, jigging contests, historic displays, canoe races, a fish derby, musical entertainment and a talent show.

Chief Cook-Searson also says the blueberry harvest should be in full swing during the gathering giving them another “unplanned” event.

(PHOTO: A photo of the Woodland Cree Gathering canoe race in 2017.)