(Photo of the James Smith Cree Nation Administration Office.)

By: Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal

The Bernard Constant Community School at James Smith Cree Nation will be hosting their fourth Annual Day Powwow and inviting the public to come join them in learning about their culture, language, dance and drums.

“This will be the fourth annual day powwow that our school is hosting,” said Randy Constant, Director of Education for the East Central First Nation Education Authority (ECFNEA), about the May 25 event.

The partnership was created in 2017, which commemorated the 30th anniversary of the first year they held the community’s larger powwow, said Constant.

The ECFNEA is more commonly known as the East Central First Nations Education Partnership. The partnership represents three First Nations who are located at the community of James Smith: Chakastaypain Band, James Smith Cree Nation and Peter Chapman Band.

The day starts at 9 a.m. with a pipe ceremony and registration to follow.

“The Day Powwow will celebrate dance and our culture,” Constant said. “The focus will be on our first language and recognizing ceremony rituals and protocols associated with powwow events.”

Powwow is meant to be inclusive, have students ask questions and experience the powwow, the songs, the dances and the celebration.

“It’s a learning opportunity for students,” Constant said.

The size of the event is growing every year. They expect around 400 people to participate, and they have many dancers, more drummers and other schools attending.

Among the drummers attending are Iron Swing from Sturgeon Lake First Nation, 1RO from One Arrow FN, Mina Peyak from Beardys and Okemasis, and Atikamik from Big River First Nation.

All three chiefs, Chief Calvin Sanderson of Chakastaypasin, Okimaw Wally Burns of James Smith and Chief Rob Head of Peter Chapman, will attend the event

During the powwow they will also pay special tributes to members of their community who were in the education system. These special memorials commemorate these individuals through various dance categories throughout the day.

Donnie Speidel of Saskatoon has been invited to be the master of ceremonies. He is a member of the Saskatoon Public School Division and is a cultural expert for their school division.

Gerald Ballantyne, from Little Red First Nation, will be the arena director for the event. He co-ordinates when the dancers start, initiates the grand entry, organizes the drums and ensures the proper protocols are being followed.

Weather permitting, everything will be outside. Constant said it will be a full day.

“Our school’s powwow is meant to bring our people together, both young and old, and celebrate dance through song and embrace each other.  We are on the path of becoming trauma-informed with the ultimate goal of being trauma-sensitive in our day-to-day activities.”