by Xavier Kataquapit
Mattagami – A trio of eagles in flight greeted the Seventh Annual Mattagami First Nation Pow Wow, which took place on August 19 and 20 in the community.
Elder Mike Naveau, pointed out that the three eagles had been over the community leading up to the annual gathering. Local members took it as a sign of good fortune as the eagle symbolizes strength and vision. They visit every year. This year’s Pow Wow was titled Honouring Our Elders and it was led by host drum Eagle River Singers of Barriere Lake First Nation, Quebec; co-host drum Shining Water Singers of Georgina Island First Nation, Ontario and invited drum Thunder Creek of Timmins, Ontario.
“Our annual Pow Wow is an important way for us to connect our youth and our Elders together and remind all of us of our cultural past. I really enjoy our annual gathering and seeing my grandchildren and other youth dancing. It is important for us to acknowledge and recognize our past and to honour our Elders, who are our traditional knowledge keepers,” explained Chief Chad Boissoneau.
The community was honoured by having Regional Chief Isadore Day, Chiefs Of Ontario (COO) in full regalia as the head male dancer for the two day event. He was joined by his wife Angela Trudeau, who was the head female dancer. They are both of Serpent River FN and they attended the event with their children who also danced.
Pow Wow Elders were Alex Jacobs and Agnes Naveau of Mattagami FN.
“It is a special honour for me and my family to be invited here to dance at this Pow Wow. As Regional Chief of Ontario and as a former Chief of my community, I understand the importance of remembering and honouring our Elders as they hold the knowledge and wisdom of our people. Our annual Pow Wows are also an important part of our communities as they bring together the ideas of culture, language, family and unity. It is a way for us to remember our heritage, honour our past and to celebrate who we are as a people,” said Regional Chief Day.
The event was coordinated by Dana McKenzie, Mattagami FN along with local assistants Kiara Constant, Emily Ludebeck, Jason Therriault and Nolan Naveau. Councillor Jennifer Constant and Executive Director Juanita Luke also spearhead support for the event.
“This year’s Pow Wow was a great success as it brought together our community for a fun event to honour our Elders. They are the ones who kept our culture alive and it was their guidance and their life long sacrifices that allowed us to be who we are today. We have so much to be thankful for because of them,” said McKenzie.
The Seventh Annual Mattagami FN Pow Wow sponsors included: Mattagami First Nation, First Nation Engineering Services Ltd., Tisdale Plumbing, Lessard-Stephens Funeral Home, Chenier Motors, Caron Equipment, Olthuis Kleer Townshend, Northern College, Gold Corp Inc., Timmins Garage, Sivas Family Restaurant, Expert Garage and IAMGOLD.
Lead youth dancers were local community members Max Worme and Janelle Golinowski.
Worme was honoured with a surprise gift of male dancer’s regalia presented to him by Regional Chief Day during the event. “I was really surprised and honoured with this gift. My family and I are very grateful to Chief Isadore Day for providing me with such amazing regalia. It will definitely keep me dancing and hopefully encourage other young people to do the same,” commented Worme.
The two day event was guided by MC Greg ëMista Wasisí Dreaver, Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatchewan and Arena Director Shady Hafez, Kitigan Zibi FN, Quebec.
The event started on Thursday with a tipi raising and teaching event on the Pow Wow grounds hosted by Misiway Community Health Centre and led by Misiway staff Gary Martin, Kristin Murray and Zack Farrell. The tipi was then used to house the Pow Wow fire which was watched over by Pow Wow Fire Keeper Morrison Solomon, of Neyaashiinigmiing (Chippewas of Nawash) First Nation. Community members spent the dayís events visiting old and new friends while snacking from local vendors that sold traditional foods including moose and fish and modern treats such as funnel cake and ice cream.
Vendors also included local artists and artisans who sold artwork and traditional crafts. The first day of events also featured a morning breakfast and an afternoon feast which was organized by Tracy Harnack and her sister Winona Harnack, along with volunteer family members and friends.