Sep 22, 2012 / 1:00 pm
Okanagan College played host to an exhibition of colour, sound and ceremony during the Fourth Annual Youth Exhibition Pow Wow on Thursday.
The rhythmic drums from drum groups Iron Mountain and Little Hawk combined with the swirl and ceremony of the sacred pow wow to capture the hearts and minds of the hundreds who were on hand at the Kelowna campus.
The annual event is held in part to provide cross-cultural learning, but also to deepen understanding and relationships with local Aboriginal people.
“The students themselves really appreciate more public events like this because it helps them to feel more comfortable on campus,” says James Coble, Aboriginal Access and Services Coordinator.
Members from bands throughout the Okanagan Nation along with others from the Thompson and Merritt areas arrived for the event, as well as visiting students from Kelowna Secondary School and throughout the Okanagan Valley.
"This was my third time dancing here," says 14-year-old Nayden Brigham, a member of the Williams Lake band who now lives in West Kelowna.
The ceremony also honoured veterans with the presentation of the red Killed in Action flag, by flag bearer and Veteran Queen Bernice Albert, a member of the Thompson Nation.
"In 1991, I had the honour to represent veterans, and travelled to California where they presented us with this flag," says Albert.
"We had a black flag to honour those who served, but we didn’t have anything to honour those who were killed in action. This red flag represents those who died, were buried, are in our hospitals and in our jails. They are our fallen veterans."
The event included booths featuring many Aboriginal wares, including hand-woven baskets and sage crafted by Minnie Kenoras, a member of the Neskonlith Band in Salmon Arm who regularly teaches a Living Off the Land course.
"I teach people hunting, fishing, and how to make baskets. I’ve done this kind of teaching all my life, and learned from my parents," says Kenoras.
The pow wow included a social dance where everyone in the audience was invited to participate, underlining the meaning of the pow wow – unity.
"People may not understand that pow wows are not just for fun,” says Coble.
“There is a deeper meaning.”
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