Head dancers Amy White and Nicholas Deleary on a break at the 9th Annual George Brown College Four Sacred Colours Pow Wow, held April 1 at the George Brown College campus on Toronto’s waterfront.

By Rick Garrick

TORONTO—Chippewas of the Thames’ Nicholas Deleary enjoyed his head male dancer role at the 9th Annual George Brown College Four Sacred Colours Pow Wow on April 1.

“This was great — it was fun,” says Deleary, who began dancing in the 1970s and is currently a part-time Ojibway language teacher at George Brown College. “It feels like it was two days.”

Deleary says there were dancers from all over Canada at the Pow Wow.

“We have a mixture of all different cultures from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec,” Deleary says. “And the students here also mix with the students at Humber [College] and Ryerson [University] and [University of Toronto]. So it’s a big community. It’s not a reserve, but we see everybody.”

The Pow Wow also featured a showcase of the different dance styles as well as intertribal, a round dance, a giveaway dance, and a healing dance.

“It’s great to see this,” Deleary says. “It’s really important to see the young people dancing for fun and getting out with their families and celebrating together, visiting and socializing. It’s just a great way to spend a whole Saturday doing this.”

Walpole Island’s Amy White, head female dancer, says it was an awesome Pow Wow.

“Everyone was just giving it their all,” White says. “My role as the head dancer was to lead the opening, the closing. We had a healing dance, so I was asked as [part of my] responsibility to introduce the healing dance.”

Whitefish River’s Jolene May, Aboriginal student support worker and events planner at George Brown College, says there was a good turnout with about 50 dancers at the Pow Wow.

“I enjoyed it — the weather was nice,” May says. “There was five drum groups, the host drum was Young Creek.”

May says the Pow Wow gives non-Indigenous people a chance to learn about the First Nations culture.

“We had [English as a Second Language] volunteers, so it was their very first time at a Pow Wow,” May says. “They go to George Brown to learn English. They’re international students.”

Kettle and Stoney Point’s Derrick Bressette also enjoyed participating in the Pow Wow.

“This was the best Pow Wow that I was at in a long time,” Bressette says, noting that he used to emcee the Pow Wow. “I had a lot of fun here. I know a lot of the singers, the dancers, I know Bob Goulais, [this year’s] emcee, personally.”

Wikwemikong’s Lori Budge, coordinator of Indigenous initiatives and counselling at George Brown College, says the Pow Wow was well organized this year.

“We had a lovely day, cloudy in the morning and sunny at night, not too hot and not too cold,” Budge says. “Attendance was good, maybe not our biggest attended year, but certainly one of our top three. We love to hold [the Pow Wow] on the waterfront. It’s in a new building.”

The Pow Wow also featured a feast as well as selection of Indigenous art, crafts, and wares for sale.

“It was an amazing success,” says Ian Wigglesworth, interim Dean of the Centre for Preparatory and Liberal Studies at George Brown College. “We have a lot of Indigenous students at George Brown, but more important is we are all treaty people. So the ability to interact with Canada’s history and its current culture is a really important aspect of what we do at George Brown.”