New Brunswick

UNB powwow packed for celebration of culture and language

So many people came to the University of New Brunswick's 5th annual powwow on the Fredericton campus, the co-ordinator said there wasn't enough seating for everyone who turned up. 

Hundreds came to Currie Centre on Fredericton campus for fifth annual event

Hundreds of people attended the 5th annual UNB Powwow on Thursday. (CBC)

So many people came to the University of New Brunswick's 5th annual powwow on the Fredericton campus, the co-ordinator said there wasn't enough seating for everyone who turned up. 

Starlit Simon said it's been great to see the celebration of Indigenous culture, history and language flourish after a modest launch by a small group five years ago.

"We're sharing the culture, we're sharing the language and people want to know more, so its really cool to have so many people attending," she said.

On Friday, the first ever Language Gathering begins on the UNB campus to mark UNESCO's Year of Indigenous Languages. The theme for the gathering is carrying language forward, which is why Simon said they are trying to promote language during the powwow too.

"It's kind of gearing into the language revival gathering this weekend as well."

Simon said many schools attended this year to introduce their students to Indigenous culture.

"For the longest time our culture, our history was excluded a lot of the time in the education system … so I think now especially with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there's a lot more they are trying to do to introduce students to the truth of what happened to our people," Simon said.

Powwow season is a chance to gather with other families, honour tradition and perhaps try a dance 1:59

Stevie Polchies was the junior head dancer for the powwow. She said the event allows her to show off her culture with her regalia and dancing.

Polchies is a fancy shawl dancer, and her regalia represents a butterfly.

"At the beginning of my dance you notice I bounce a little bit, as a butterfly opens up from its cocoon," Polchies said.

"With every dancer there's a story that they tell every time they dance if you really watch."

With files from Philip Drost