9th annual powwow welcomes back FNUniv students
- EFN Staff | October 05, 2017
Students at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) started the school year hearing the sounds of drums and powwow dancing. The institution hosted the Tony Cote Welcome Back powwow on the front lawn during the first week of classes.
Fraser Heathen, the president of the FNUniv Student Association, said the Tony Cote Welcome Back powwow is an annual event held at the beginning of the school year to welcome new and returning students. This year’s powwow was changed to coincide with the University of Regina’s welcome week events.
“We figured it would be a good strategy to help bring a good breath of fresh air into the institution right off the hop when school starts,” he said. “It helps establish relationships between the executive, the student association, the student body, the faculty and also members of the U of R student’s union.”
FNUniv elder helper Roland Kaye said this is the ninth year the institution has organized this annual event at the start of the fall semester. He added the event originated from Isadore Pelletier, Ken Goodwill and Velma Goodfeather – all elders of the university who passed on.
“[They] suggested to do something for our returning and new students,” Kaye said. “It’s to make them feel welcomed and to feel proud [to] showcase their culture.”
Jolene Creely is a third-year Indian Communication Arts (INCA) student at FNUniv. She has been dancing at the annual powwow for three years now and said it’s an event that she looks forward to every start of the school year.
“It’s a place to come together…especially for new students,” she said. “They have a sense of home…it’s good for them to meet new people. That’s what this institute is about is having not only First Nations people but also non-Indigenous people to experience what our culture is like and what it sounds like.”
Creely said she likes that FNUniv renamed the powwow after one of the founding institution elders, Tony Cote.
“It’s nice to see how they honoured Tony with the important role he has with the institution,” she said. “He’s always here every year and watching all the dancers looking all happy.”
Creely also danced in the red dress special to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women along with other dance specials and categories where many spectators including elder Tony Cote, university students and staff, local elementary students, U of R daycare children, dignitaries and community members watched with pride.