It’s hard for Kristine Jack to hold back her emotions as she talks about the Between the Lakes Powwow, coming into its third year this weekend.
“I am just so proud we can say this is our third year. We are getting bigger and we are getting better,” said Jack, who organizes the annual gathering, honouring the memory of her mother, Clara Jack, and other members of the Four Seasons War Dance Society who hosted a large powwow in Penticton from 1971 to 1978.
Putting together a powwow is a lot of work, but Jack said it is a labour of love and passion for the organizing committee, which includes her daughters.
Jack has a photo of her mother Clara in the 70s, holding up an eagle feather, surrounded by dancers in their regalia.
“This is what keeps me going,” she said, choking back the emotion. “It’s our passion, it’s for the kids.”
Jack remembers both being a part of the powwow as a child and as a dancer, but also helping her mother. “My mom, Clara Jack, gave me the tools. I watched everything, I was a part of everything she did in the powwow, even on Sunday, gathering the garbage,” said Jack.
“She was a tiny little lady, packing the garbage, and just wanting to make sure the event she brought to the community was as if there was never an event.
“Everybody who made this event possible, she made sure she thanked. And then picked up the garbage.”
“I just hope they are proud. I hope my mom is proud.”
This year, the Between the Lakes Powwow starts on Friday, Aug. 17, with the call for the first grand entry at 6 p.m., and dancers blessing the floor at 6:45 p.m. and continues through to Sunday afternoon.
“Our responses to people wanting to participate or wanting to just come and see what the powwow has to offer has been huge,” said Jack.
“We’re really positive about our numbers doubling this year.
“It is open to the public, we want everyone to come. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, come and see how we celebrate our culture and enjoy our children.”
Children are always a beloved part of any powwow, especially the “tiny tots” learning their first dance steps, but Jack said this powwow is a celebration of children, with fun activities on Saturday for the younger set and introducing the kids and young leaders Sunday.
“We have some remarkable youth that have just been doing their academic or athletic best or are just out there giving their time to the community,” said Jack.
Jack said they are looking forward to welcoming new dancers and old, along with new drum groups coming to take part as well as the First Nations artists.
“We’ve had some beautiful arts and crafts vendors and this year, we’re hoping to get more variety of arts and crafts: maybe paintings, carvings and different things,” said Jack.
If you’ve never attended a powwow before, and are wondering how you are going to tell a grass dancer’s regalia from a jingle or a traditional, Jack said the emcee, Francis James, will make sure everyone knows.
Spectators, everyone actually, is also invited to join the Intertribal dances
“The Intertribal is for the whole, all the spectators, all the dancers to take part,” said Jack.
Photos are permitted, except under a few circumstances.
“If a dancer doesn’t want you to take a picture, they will let you know. They are really good about that,” said Jack. “It’s a matter of respect.”
Prayers and honour songs are not the time to be snapping photos, nor is when an eagle feather drops to the floor.
“We do the ceremony for that, and all cameras are supposed to be off.”
As emotional as Jack gets while talking about the past powwows, her passion shines through when talking about what Between the Lakes has come to mean to people.
It’s a great feeling, she said, that so many people have grasped that a powwow is such a beautiful thing.
“And it is powerful, that so many people have walking away and said ‘this is just what I needed,’” said Jack.
“We’ve created a weekend where people who need prayer and dance; come, because you will get all of it.
“It is a celebration of dancing, it just has so much positivity, and energy.”
Jack admits that even before the 2018 Between the Lakes, she is already thinking about next years’ powwow.
“I read her (mother Clara Jack) notes all the time, and know it was a hard process. No matter how hard it is, it’s doable.
She always said ‘anything is doable, it’s just how bad you want it,’” said Jack.
“So for me I want it every year.“
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