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2nd annual pow wow celebrates Indigenous culture

Inclusive, 3-day celebration takes place Sept. 15 to 17 at Langley Events Centre

A three-day festival to celebrate Indigenous culture is returning to Langley this weekend, and everyone is welcome.

stɑl̓əw̓ Arts and Cultural Society’s Pow Wow will share, honour, and celebrate rich Indigenous culture, and this year it will aim to educate its audiences as well from Friday to Sunday, Sept. 15 to 17 at Langley Events Centre.

Phyllis Atkins, manager at the society, said it hopes to use the pow wow as a platform to bring attention to issues impacting Indigenous communities.

“With everything the Indigenous communities have been through, we try to support each other and bring awareness to non-Indigenous communities, because we need to work together – we can’t do this alone,” Atkins said.

Doors open at 5 p.m. on Friday, with Grass Dancers performing a Blessing of the Floor ceremony at 6:45 p.m. A grand entry will follow with an opening prayer, inter-tribal singing and dancing, before the competitions begin at 8 p.m.

On Saturday and Sunday doors open at 11 a.m. with a similar proceeding of events.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, there will be a Red Dress special honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit folks. Special guest Lorelei Williams will judge the dance special, which will be followed by the Butterflies in Spirit Indigenous dance group’s own performance.

In the evening at 7 p.m., an Orange Shirt special performance will be on stage and judged by Phyllis Webstad, founder of the Orange Shirt Society. The performance honours survivors of residential schools.

Over the weekend, dancers, singers, and drummers of all ages are competing against each other for prize money. Each day concludes with a Closing of Colours ceremony.

“It’s really fun… especially when it’s down to the finals, they really have to work for it,” Atkins chuckled.

She explained that the pow wow ceremonies are integral to many Indigenous cultures and carry great importance in the community.

The tiny tots category will have kids six and younger perform, and the junior class will feature dancers between ages seven and 12. Teenagers and those between 18 and 54 will have a separate category, too.

Artists aged 55-plus will participate under the golden age category. Atkins shared that the head staff will judge the regalia of the group members, in addition to the dance moves or drum beats.

All except kids six and younger will compete for up to $100,000 in prize money.

In addition to the various cultural programming, stɑl̓əw̓ will be hosting 50-plus Indigenous vendors and two food trucks present, all providing authentic Indigenous food, art and crafts for purchase.

The society is welcoming Indigenous groups from across Canada and the United States to Kwantlen First Nation land for this weekend’s three-day ceremony.

Langley Events Centre is located at 7888 200th St.

Tickets can be bought online at stalewpowwow.ca.

A full schedule of activities is also available on the website.

Atkins gave thanks to the pow wow committee members for their efforts in organizing the second annual event.

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Kyler Emerson

About the Author: Kyler Emerson

I'm excited to start my journalism career in Langley and meet our community.
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