For Kristine Jack, seeing how youngsters have improved their dancing skills in the past year is a highlight of the Between The Lakes Pow Wow, the biggest First Nations cultural event in the South Okanagan.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the young dancers that we see every year grow and become so much more creative,” said Jack, an event organizer with the Four Seasons Cultural Society.
“They practice all year. They travel to other powwows. It’s just beautiful to see the growth in the children.”
The three-day, third annual celebration of the culture and traditions of the Syilx (Okanagan) people kicks off Friday and runs throughout the weekend.
Young people are who keep Indigenous culture, tradition, language and regalia alive, Jack added.
“Our regalia has changed throughout the years and you see (that) with some of the young who are more artistic,” she said. “Their regalia seems to be more artistic and flamboyant. Dancers come in all shapes and sizes and all colours. It’s just beautiful to witness all the beautiful regalia.”
Each dancer makes their own regalia, she added, so each outfit is unique. It takes a long time to collect the items to create.
“Each outfit is made for the dancer, so whatever you feel you need to have on your regalia to make it who you are (is used). The brightness and the feathers and the different animals that are sacrificed for certain ceremonial purposes. It’s just beautiful.”
This year promises to be a bigger event than in previous years, with hundreds of dancers from across Western Canada and the United States attending to display their talent and athleticism in a variety of traditional dance and drumming competitions.
Some of the dance specials this year include the men’s chicken battle, the two-spirited dance and the ladies jingle.
People attend a powwow for many reasons, Jack explained.
“Some come to just watch the dances, some come to bring their children to dance or family members, and then there are others who come who need it,” Jack said.
“They need the prayers. They need the significance of the powwow bringing the culture together and our First Nations communities together. There are so many prayers that are just powerful for people who feel like they need prayer right now.”
This year, about 20 vendors will be on hand at the Outma Sqilx’W Cultural School on the Penticton Indian Band reserve selling handcrafted arts and crafts, so bring cash.
The grand entry kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. The first day will be all about welcoming visitors and dancers and blessing the floor with grass dances. Saturday and Sunday are when the competitions get going and the dancers compete for cash prizes.
Tickets are $5 for one day or $10 for a weekend pass. Kids under five years old get in free.
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