March to the beat of our drum!

photo by: Gina Hsu

Since the beginning of time, the original people of Turtle Island have come together in their own ways, and in their own communities to celebrate.

We celebrate so many things; Mother Earth, the water, the Moon, the Sun and stars, the drum, the Solstice, the Equinox, the people, life, death, spirit, sustenance, and Creator (just to name a few).

Each nation across Turtle Island has their own language, songs, dances, foods, regalia, and enormous generosity.

Whether it has been called a ‘Powwow’, a ‘Social’, a ‘Potlatch’, a ‘Feast’, or a ‘Gathering’, we come together to share all of these things in a good way and with the utmost respect for each other and our ways.

But for many years, under the Indian Act of 1876, these kinds of celebrations were made illegal by the Canadian government.

Indian Agents were requested by the Government to discourage us from “excessive dancing,” and “gathering together.”

Unable to leave our designated reserves without permission from these Indian Agents, we took our dances, our language, our songs, and our ceremonies underground.

We practiced them and kept them alive as best we could, even when jail was the consequence.

Since the beginning of Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (it was named at its founding) 16 years ago, which is warmly housed in St. Paul’s University College, we have hosted an annual celebration with all of these things in mind.

This yearly event has grown to see more than 2,500 people and the currently named Shatitsiroth’a Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre is looking forward to seeing even more people this year in Waterloo Park (near the bandshell) on Sept. 28, 2019.

The day begins with the Sunrise Ceremony, featuring our Head Elder at 7:15 a.m. by the Sacred Fire. Grand entry begins at noon.

These are times where we ask that no pictures be taken, and no video recorded. 

We bring out our sacred items such as the Eagle Staff and our Nation Flags, our medicines, our elders and veterans, our dancers and youth, our families and friends.

During Grand entry we sing honour songs and flag songs while we post our nation’s flags. These are our anthems. Please stand with us if you can.

And then the dancing begins.

We have big drums and dancers from right here in KW and from as far away as places like Flying Post First Nation.

We invite everyone to dance. Intertribals and spot dances might win you a prize.

Our amazing MC brings all of the education, humor, and chatter we have come to love during his time with us the last four years.

Visit the Teaching Space Tent to learn about the Haudenosuanee dances, Metis games and jigging, and Inuit drums and stories.

The craft and artisan booths are too numerous to mention, but local artists and vendors such as Catherine Dallaire will be selling their incredible works of art.

There are information booths by local community organizations. Check out the amazing Indigenous food vendors, kettle-corn booth, and ‘four all ice cream.’

There will be a water station on site, so please bring a refillable water bottle.

There are accessible port-a-potties, an ATM, and free parking off University Avenue, in the back of Lot C. Admission is free, all are welcome.

We will retire the flags at 5 p.m. and sing our last songs. Many Nations don’t actually say “good-bye,” but “until we see you again,” because we do hope to see you again.

So, we invite you to join us next Saturday in Waterloo Park to learn more about us. We have been here since the beginning of time. And we are still celebrating.


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