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A parade of dancers in their beautiful and ceremonial regalia moved to the beat of drumming and singing, to officially open the 25th Annual Yellow Wolf Inter-tribal Powwow.

The loud beating of the drums, the enigmatic chanting of the elders, and the thumping of the dancers’ feet filled the room that portrayed a scene representing about 20 tribal dance groups from all over Canada and the U.S.

After a brief hiatus in 2018, the Yellow Wolf Inter-tribal Powwow returned to the Saanich Peninsula this year. Hosted by the Sampson family of the Tsartlip First Nation, the celebration was held last August 2-4, 2019 at the Tsawout Gathering Strength Centre in Saanichton, Victoria.

This year’s powwow began with a memorial for the departed members of the community, especially for the deaths of the relatives of the Sampson family. Following the sacred and private commemoration, the celebration officially opened with the grand entry of the dance participants, marking the beginning of the dance competition that ended on Sunday.

The inter-tribal assembly reenacts sacred rituals and celebrates Indigenous arts, culture, and friendship through music, food, songs, and dances. The 3-day long celebration this year also showcased Indigenous food and crafts.

Powwows are important social gatherings among the Indigenous communities to reinforce friendship among the different tribes and promote and preserve their own traditions. Meaningful celebrations such as this are essential in today’s context where First Nations’ rights are not fully recognized and they are not given equal opportunities. The call for better reception of First Nations culture in modern times is more urgent and needed than before to preserve the unique and sacred traditions that constitute the beginnings of the peoples of North America.

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