U of T brings powwows to the city

Hundreds of people turned out Sunday as the University of Toronto's Indigenous Studies Student Union hosted their second annual powwow.

Powwows feature traditional dancers, food and Indigenous culture

University of Toronto wants to give Torontonians the opportunity to hit the powwow trail right here in the city. (James Morrison/CBC)

Hundreds of people turned out Sunday as the University of Toronto's Indigenous Studies Student Union hosted their second annual powwow.

Student union representative Ziigwen Mixemong said the powwow is a coming together of many different First Nations to celebrate being Indigenous.

"It's been absolutely amazing. It's about love and respect and going forth with kindness, having fun and coming and doing that in a good way," she told CBC Toronto.

The U of T has been on a quest to reverse the trend where people who wanted to hit the powwow trail were forced to go outside of the city.

Indigenous Studies Student Union representative Ziigwen Mixemong says the powwow is full of fun, laughs, dancing and singing. (James Morrison/CBC)

Jennifer Sylvester, who is working with the U of T to revive powwows here in the city, said on Metro Morning, that a lot of people are still unaware of the Indigenous presence in the city and this must change.

"It's a matter of building those relationships between the non-Indigenous and Indigenous community, to sort of say, 'Hey, this is who we are. This is what our community is,'" Sylvester said. 

"A lot of people, especially on the U of T campus, did not understand that there was an Indigenous presence on campus or even on campuses in general across the GTA." 

Powwow celebrations showcase Indigenous music, dances, dance apparel, food and crafts and are commonly hosted by First Nations communities.

Pow wow season is starting. And in the past, if you wanted to hit the pow wow trail, you had to go outside of the city. This Sunday, you can experience a pow wow right in downtown Toronto. We speak with Jennifer Sylvester, one of the organizers. 7:57

Sylvester said she has been participating in powwow celebrations for as long as she can remember.

"For me, it's just being surrounded by family. Even though we may not be family by blood, there is just something about the communal effect of being with your fellow Indigenous people," she explained. 

"You see all the dancers in their regalia, you see all the multi-colours, you see all the laughter, the smiling faces, and it's just a community."

With files from Metro Morning