Ron Kanutski and his goddaughter Carleiuh Loon from Mishkeegogamang.

Ron Kanutski and his goddaughter Carleiuh Loon from Mishkeegogamang.

By Rick Garrick

Tiny tots pow-wows are an exciting time for young children, but they also encourage interest in the traditions and bring families closer together.

“My goddaughter loves to pow-wow, so I decided to take the afternoon off work and come here instead,” says Lake Helen’s Ron Kanutski during the Earth Day Tiny Tots Pow-Wow, held on April 22 in Thunder Bay. “The dancing is a good healer. It’s a celebration of life and it brings our family together.”

The men’s traditional dancer, social worker and comedian brought his children up on the pow-wow trail as soon as they were able to walk.

“I have a couple of daughters who enjoyed it their whole lives and I have a son who kind of liked it for a bit as a kid but didn’t really enjoy it for part of his public school years,” Kanutski says. “From Grade 1 to 5 he was more of a hockey player, but now he’s come back and he’s dancing with me.”

Kanutski didn’t begin following the pow-wow trail until he was a young man, noting the world was “different” back then with many people going through various stages of healing.

“It became part of my healing,” Kanutski says. “I went to my traditions for the purpose of having a better life.”

So even though Kanutski and his family were getting ready for a trip to the southern United States the next day, he realized it was important to attend the pow-wow with his mother, goddaughter and the family eagle staff.

“It’s all about healing and working together as a family,” Kanutski says.

Couchiching’s Raven Linklater says her interest in the pow-wow trail was “reinvigorated” after her daughter was born about 10 years ago.

“My family has been highly involved in the pow-wow for the last 10 years,” says Linklater, who brought her young son to the pow-wow. “It’s really important to integrate culture with your everyday life. As a child, I danced jingle dress and I danced right up until I was about 14 years old.”

Linklater enjoys the atmosphere on the pow-wow trail.

“I love the sense of community,” Linklater says. “And it’s great exercise.”

Neskantaga’s Suzanne Medicine demonstrated her commitment to the pow-wow trail by making grass dance and jingle dress regalia for her two younger children over the past week.

“I heard there was a mini pow-wow for toddlers so I decided to work on them last week,” Medicine says, noting her husband is a grass dancer and she was a fancy shawl dancer before her children were born. “She’s small and can’t really go with a shawl yet.”

Medicine says her daughter could switch over to fancy shawl regalia when she’s older, but may decide to continue dancing jingle.

“My mother used to take me to pow-wows in other communities,” Medicine says. “I remember being little like her and getting a jingle dress — I was so excited.”