The Four Seasons Cultural Society announced the return of the Pow Wow between the Lakes on Thursday, with the traditional celebratory event due to take place in Penticton in June.
The theme for the event, which will be held from June 23 to 25 at the South Okanagan Events Centre, is "Healing the Nation." The society shared that the theme is intended to bring together the eight bands of the Okanagan Nation Alliance in celebration of Sylix culture and resilience.
Members of the past and present Pow Wow communities were in attendance for the announcement, and to pass that feather on from one generation to the next.
“While the Four Seasons Cultural Society realizes that a Pow Wow will not heal the entire nation of the injustices inflicted upon indigenous communities and people in one weekend, we are committed to providing a safe space to practice the very things that were made illegal in order to strip us of our cultural identity and challenge oppressive colonial norms like blood quantum, homophobia, and setting a standard of having complete regalia in order to compete in our competitive categories,” Haley Rodas, the next executive director of the society said.
“We are reminding our children about the possibility to create equal spaces of representation for our people. We are reminding them that this is a Sn'pinktn. So we invite you to come to learn, play and heal with us because we are still here.”
Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel expressed his excitement for the return of the event.
“Given what all of our communities have gone through in the past three to five years of COVID and the heart-wrenching stories that have come to the surface the last two, or three years, every opportunity we can to bring our communities together, such as this, it's an amazing thing that happens,” he said.
“That only builds our relationship in terms of reconciliation. It's not going to fix it. But it certainly means a lot when you bring all the communities together, and the message scores throughout our nation.”
He also thanked the City of Penticton and the SOEC for offering the space to host the event, which will be the first time it’s been held in city limits.
“I think having the event within the City of Penticton is a reminder that the city and all the other municipalities in this area are on the traditional territories of the Sylix people. And as such, having the ceremony here is really having the Pow wow on their traditional territories,” Mayor Julius Bloomfield said.
“So it's an acknowledgement for us, the settler community to say yes, this is your territory, it was your territory, it is your territory. And we celebrate along with you.”
The event is open to the public and everyone is invited to attend.
“The general public, they should come out and see what a Pow Wow is all about, how our nations in the past have come together to continue on with our legacy, a camaraderie and friendships,” Gabriel said.
“This is one of the many events that we put out to the general public that showcases our traditional heritage in traditional ways.”
Bloomfield said that as a city, they are committed to walking the path of reconciliation with the Penticton Indian Band, and the community.
“While words are important, action is essential as we move forward.”
With less than six months until the Pow Wow, society members are currently looking for sponsors, contributions and volunteers. Anyone interested in supporting the premiere of the pow wow in Penticton is asked to contact the society at [email protected]
The event begins with the first Grand Entry on Friday, June 23 at 7 pm. Saturday’s competition will begin at 1 p.m. and continue at 7 p.m. The event will wrap up on Sunday with the final competition at 1 p.m. Food and arts and craft vendors will be on site throughout the weekend.
Tickets will be available closer to the event through the SOEC.