Generational special new to this year’s NLC powwow
- EFN Staff | November 19, 2018
The Northern Lights Casino (NLC) powwow is always a huge attraction for singers, dancers and spectators and this year, a new dance special was introduced to honour those who did not make it home.
“They danced for those who did not make it back to their communities,” said Richard Ahenakew who added there were over 20 pairs who entered the dance special. “I was pretty nervous but it turned out really good.”
Ahenakew, the general manager of the Northern Lights Casino (NLC) and is also the NLC powwow chair, said over the last year he came up with the idea of holding a generational special where grandparents danced with their grandchildren on behalf of the individuals who did not make it home from the residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and men and women who are missing and were murdered. Ahenakew’s parents are residential school survivors and a lot of his staff have lost family members who disappeared and had never returned home. It was an idea that was more fitting to introduce this year.
“When we started our planning for the powwow, I thought we should do something to honour those that didn’t make it back. It was an idea of mine and with a lot of help, it became the special that it is.”
The 19th NLC powwow celebration is also known for the infamous men’s fancy dance spotlight special where spectators fill the seats in the crowd. It was something that was missed by many when the NLC did not host their annual powwow last year.
Ahenakew said the company has switched up how they host its powwow. Instead of hosting the celebration every year, the NLC powwow is now held every two years. It was worth the wait for the committee, dancers, singers and spectators.
“The community here in Prince Albert embraces this powwow. When we didn’t have it last year, I know a lot of the people and businesses missed it. When we had our first powwow meeting, to hear everybody talking and laughing, it was to see how much everybody cared about [the powwow].”
The registered drum groups were lesser than what they had in the past but the dancers were slightly above average. The overall attendance was above 2,800 people but it’s the various dance specials that drew the exceeding crowds over the Thanksgiving long weekend. It costs a significant amount to host the powwow which is over $180,000. The powwow committee consists of over 30 people which is made up of elders, community members and employees of the NLC who gathered to help put on a successful powwow.
“There’s so much positive about it…you look at the children out there spending time with their grandparents and their families there,” said Ahenakew. “It felt so good.”
In 2020, the NLC will host their 20th powwow celebration at the Art Hauser Center.