24 Hours In Dryden Ontario

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7:00 AM up bright and early, essential Tim Hortons coffee stop and then we were ready for the approximate 4 hour road trip down to the small town of Dryden, Ontario, Canada.

24 hours later my travelling partner (a.k.a my wonderful mother) and I were heading home with great vibes, stories to tell, new connections, people we had met and a collection of significant photographs to reminisce over our wonderful 24 hour getaway.

My mother and I were invited to Dryden to participate in their annual honouring youth powwow at their local high school. It was very lovely to see so many youth, young women and the whole school up and dancing during intertribal’s along with their teachers.

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ShorIMG_7634tly after the regular powwow protocols of the grand entry, flag song, veteran song, prayer, intertribal and honour songs it was time for my mother and I to showcase our dances. The MC handed me the mic and I proceeded to introduce myself and share my teachings of the Indigenous traditional hoop dance. I then began to dance to the sound of the drum, making sure to use up as much space as I could, to practice some new formations and moves I had been eager to try in front of an audience and to try my best to keep the room engaged with my performance. When I was finished I was greeted with a large applause.

Then it was my IMG_7636mother’s turn. They proceeded to drum a song for her as the young women were asked to watch because they would be trying after. My mother looked beautiful as she kept in time with the beat, her golden jingles creating that comforting familiar sound and her feathered fan raised high in the air at every check beat. After, as promised, the young women came up to dance alongside of her. They all had such enthusiasm in their eyes and watched my mother closely again as they tried to mimic her fancy contemporary jingle dress style foot work.

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IMG_7653The powwow had been held annually for over 20 years and the man who had started it all was still teaching and hosting the powwow at the school. His name was Leonard Skye. He was a gentle, loving and incredibly respected man in the community and was honoured while we there for his years of dedication to the school, the youth and his community.

He will be retiring this year so they held a special honour song for him, as students came up giving him hugs and words of thanks. They then proceeded to honour him with awards such as the prestigious one shown in the photograph which was to be hung in the city hall. He is originally from Eagle Lake, 15 minutes west of Dryden and was a residential school survivor. He spoke with so much passion and pride and you could feel the love and respect everyone had for him.

The next day after the powwow, we decided to take a detour before heading home to check out the round dance that Eagle Lake was hosting to honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women. It was a gorgeous warm day with a slight breeze and when we arrived they had hung symbolic red dresses throughout the community to signify those they had lost and to honour them as they are still loved, valued and remembered. After a beautiful round dance of women, men, youth, elders and the whole Eagle Lake community, everyone was given a pouch of tobacco to offer to one of the sacred fires that were set up in each sacred direction. Everyone then proceeded to walk down the road to choose a specific sacred fire to offer their tobacco.

I was so glad that we were able to come and witness such a resilient and strong community and to partake in the round dance and offering of tobacco. After that we had to hit the highway to make it back to city but we made sure to make some time to pull over and create an inukshuk along the way since the highway between Winnipeg and Dryden are full of them and we had always wished to do  that one day and then we had the chance!

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Overall it was a very nice 24 hour trip and I was incredibly appreciative and thankful for our invite to their community to dance. I hope to continue to travel to a variety of communities to showcase my dancing and share the teachings I was given.

Thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far. Please feel free to like, share or comment below. If there is anything I discussed in this post that you would like an extended explanation/post on let me know and I can definitely do that! Also feel free to leave any other suggestions of future posts you may like to see. Please stay tuned and subscribe to this blog to keep updated with my adventures. I hope to start posting one every week or to get on some sort of blogging schedule.

Take care everyone.

Reaching Out

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Hey guys,

The issue of violence has been bothering not only me but communities worldwide for quite sometime. Especially in my own home community of Manitoba, Canada where each day I’m constantly greeted with posts about missing persons, news reports announcing more and more violent events. I feel like violence is more prominent here in Canada that it has been ever before and it feels like it won’t ever stop. I can’t help to think of those effected by violence such as the families and communities with the growing cases of over 1181 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada alone. The fact that verbal, sexual, physical and emotional abuse is still effecting families all over the world. The fact that a girl as young as 6 was found in critical condition after being sexually assaulted and left outside in the snow. The fact that a 13 year old girl was sexually assaulted and later found bound in our local river; tragedies such as this with victims too young for such awful things to happen to them as well the fact that abductions, wars, and many more horrific tragedies continue to happen each day.

One particular experience has stuck with me when I was at a performance for a group of elderly tourists from the U.S, one lady asked,

“The Native American people here in Canada are treated much better here though than in the U.S right?”

After that question, we all looked at each other and continued to say,

“We wouldn’t say that, our government system isn’t cooperating well with us and let alone the fact that there is over 1800 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls that are often unsolved.”

At that moment we were greeted with gasps, disbelief, enormous amount of questions such as why? what’s being done? why is this happening? It was so incredibly overwhelming to learn that these individuals had never heard of what was happening and that there is probably much more individuals out there who aren’t aware. This one moment has stuck with me ever since that day. There is so much more we can be doing to outweigh the bad with the good and so much more work for us to do in terms of becoming aware ourselves and educating others on what’s happening.

I recently read Michael Champagnes post concerning violence as well and how important it is so spread love, spread awareness and even come together to pray in whatever form that may be. It inspired me to extend that invitation, to ask all that are reading this right now to find extra little ways to spread that love, to become aware of what’s going on, to begin more dialogue about the truth and to pray. Pray for the families who have lost loved ones, pray for those children living in fear, pray for world leadership to find ways to handle conflict in sincere and non-violent ways, pray for the world.

Let’s acknowledge and focus on the positive but remembering to keep ourselves aware and educated of what’s going on. There will always be good with the bad but if we all look out for each other, lend a supportive shoulder to cry on, lend a helping hand, come together and hope for the future, we just may create a beautiful contagious array of hope and love.

I hope you’ve made it to this point and thank you so much for hearing me out. I know for myself I will continue to focus on those who are doing good, to teach those around me the importance of respect and love, to continue to support families and communities who need it and find those small ways to help implant that positivity.

Pass On The Message
Love You All
– Shan