UWinnipeg readies for 17th annual Spring Pow Wow

Everyone is welcome to attend UWinnipeg’s annual Spring Pow Wow on Saturday, March 23. ©UWinnipeg

One of The University of Winnipeg’s staple events is back for its 17th year.

The annual Spring Pow Wow, which celebrates the academic achievements of UWinnipeg’s First Nation, Métis, and Inuit graduates, is taking place Saturday, March 23 at the Duckworth Centre.

UWinnipeg alumna Grace Redhead has been helping organize the annual celebration for almost a decade. Her first introduction to UWinnipeg’s annual pow wow was when she was 19 years old and still deciding whether or not to attend university.

“I had never been to university before and my mom was trying to get me to apply, and it was intimidating,” explained Redhead, who’s from Shamattawa First Nation. “We went to the pow wow and it made it less scary knowing there were so many Indigenous students on campus.”

This experience played an important role in Redhead’s decision to pursue a post-secondary education at UWinnipeg, and led her to volunteer as an organizer of the event.

Even after graduating, she continues to volunteer her time to this celebration, which grows bigger and bigger every year.

“We have around 10 drum groups, including one that drives six hours from Saskatchewan,” she said, noting it’s quite large for a one-day pow wow. “Because Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre has a pow wow club, we get a lot of dancers from the club as well.”

Students Evan Loeb and Diana Somers will be graduating at UWinnipeg’s Spring Pow Wow. ©UWinnipeg

Two of the more than 30 students graduating are Evan Loeb and Diana Somers.

A biochemistry student and hopeful dental student next year, Loeb said the pow wow is the perfect opportunity to bring the Indigenous community together for one large celebration.

“It’s nice to join together to meet old friends and new friends, exchange the joys and struggles of university, and see where we are now from where we started,” he said. “It’s going to be an incredible day.”

During his four years at UWinnipeg, Loeb said he’s seen a lot of positive change with the Indigenous campus community. He specifically pointed out the work UWinnipeg’s Aboriginal Students’ Council and Aboriginal Student Services Centre do to host the pow wow every year and showcase the many great Indigenous students.

Somers, who’s graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Indigenous Studies, is looking forward to meeting and networking with the other graduates during the pow wow.

Since starting her studies at UWinnipeg, she said the University has done a superb job at responding to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

“I appreciate what UWinnipeg is doing by implementing the Indigenous Course Requirement,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of positive change since I’ve been here.”

The celebration will start with the Grand Entry at 12:30 pm, which is Redhead’s favourite part of the day.

“Seeing (UWinnipeg President and Vice Chancellor) Dr. (Annette) Trimbee, local First Nations leaders, students, and dancers all together is awesome,” she said.

The Grand Entry will be followed with opening remarks by Dr. Trimbee, the honouring of graduates, drumming and dancing throughout the afternoon, and a feast and evening entertainment to close out the day.

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