VIDEO: Powwow shares culture at Seabird Island Festival

The Squamish Nation Eagle Powwow Princess dancing during the Seabird Island Powwow Saturday afternoon. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Dancers from different First Nations showed off their skills at the Seabird Island Festival Powwow Saturday. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Dancers from different First Nations showed off their skills at the Seabird Island Festival Powwow Saturday. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Kids in their own regalia joined in for Seabird Island’s powwow Saturday. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Dancers from different First Nations showed off their skills at the Seabird Island Festival Powwow Saturday. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
People of all ages joined together for the Seabird Island powwow Saturday. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
The opening dances of Seabird Island’s powwow was a time for comraderie and laughter. The competition came later. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Seabird Island’s powwow had its own “Tiny Tots” division, where kids could get up and dance by themselves or with their parents. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
The “Golden Age” division of the Seabird Island powwow wasn’t competitive, but it did give dancers a chance to display their skills and connect with friends. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Competition is an integral part of the Seabird Island Festival. But this year, for the festival’s 50th anniversary, that competition extended into a new field.

In addition to the soccer tournaments, three-pitch games and war canoe races, this year’s festival was also host to a powwow.

RELATED: Seabird Island to celebrate 50 years of festival

Divided into afternoon and evening events, the powwow featured dancers and drummers from around the province. More than a year and a half in the making, the powwow gave participants the opportunity to show their talent in a number of different categories, including jingle dress and dance dress.

But not everything about the powwow was competitive. The “Tiny Tots” and “Golden Age” divisions were for enjoyment only, although the kids in the “Tiny Tots” group went home with a coin as a thank you.

Including the powwow in the 50th anniversary of the festival had some historical significance as well.

In 1876, the Indian Act prohibited powwows and other kinds of traditional gatherings and it was only in 1951 that an amendment to the Indian Act allowed First Nations to continue their traditional ceremonies.

Less than 20 years after that amendment, Archie Charles began the first Seabird Island Festival, and now the powwow has returned as well.

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