Ottawa·Audio

Odawa powwow taking place in Nepean this weekend

The annual powwow run by the Odawa Native Friendship Centre has always been a big celebration of aboriginal culture in Ottawa, but this year its organizers are trying to bring the gathering to an even broader audience.
An elder takes part in a powwow in Ottawa in 2014. The Odawa Native Friendship Centre's 39th annual powwow is taking place May 23-24, 2015. (The Canadian Press)

The annual powwow run by the Odawa Native Friendship Centre has always been a big celebration of aboriginal culture in Ottawa, but this year its organizers are trying to bring the gathering to an even broader audience.

Shady Hafez, 23, was raised in Ottawa by his Syrian grandparents, but spent weekends with his mother's family in Kitigan Zibi. (CBC News)
Odawa's 39th Grassroots Competition Pow Wow runs from Saturday to Sunday at Wesley Clover Parks in Nepean, and it includes competition powwow dancing and singing on both days.

There's also an aboriginal arts and craft market featuring clothing, art, sculptures and trinkets, and aboriginal cuisine including tacos, dried fish, bannock, wild rice salads and more.

The grand entry for the powwow begins at noon on both days, featuring dancers in full regalia, elders and honoured guests carrying flags and staffs, dancing the pow wow into session.

But this year there will be a few more flags than usual, and from some unexpected places.

The powwow's organizers have invited delegates from various embassies, including representatives of the European Union, Jamaica and Venezuela. They've also invited a local Imam.

Shady Hafez, a member of the powwow organizing committee, told CBC Radio's All in a Day he's passionate about bringing aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures together, in part because of his own background.

Hafez, 23, was raised in Ottawa by his Syrian grandparents, but spent weekends with his mother's family in Kitigan Zibi. He attended powwows from a young age and began dancing in his teens.

Some powwow etiquette

  • If you want a picture, ask the person you're taking a picture of first.
  • Don't refer to the outfits as costumes, which implies dressing up as something you're not. Call them outfits, regalia or clothes.
  • During certain songs people have to stand up and there are moments where taking pictures is not allowed, but the MC will let everyone know.
  • During the competition spectators aren't allowed to participate in the dancing, but at other times it's OK.