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Penticton Women in Business: Reviving and thriving, Kristine Jack continues to grow the Pow Wow

The Pow Wow Between the Lakes is just one of Jack’s parts in the community

Included in the Wednesday, May 3 print edition is our Women in Business magazine where we highlight South Okanagan women who are making a difference in the community and in the business world. Below is a profile of Kristine Jack, who is featured in the magazine.

There is rarely a minute where Kristine Jack isn’t hard at work, whether it’s teaching, at her family’s business, or putting together the Pow Wow Between the Lakes.

After helping to bring back the Pow Wow Between the Lakes to Penticton in 2015, and leading the Four Seasons Cultural Society as executive director, the event has continued to grow and now in 2023, it is moving to the South Okanagan Events Centre for the first time.

“To be at the SOEC, my dream has come true,” said Jack. “We started in 2015 and we just haven’t looked back.”

The Pow Wow Between the Lakes has always been a part of Jack’s family. The original Four Seasons Cultural Society was founded by her mother, putting on the original Penticton powwow back in the 1970s.

“To think about them, if they were all still alive, they would be so proud,” said Jack. “At the Band ballpark, they started out there, they had the salmon barbecue and they just made it work.”

That make-it-work approach is something that Jack has continued to carry on. When she, her sisters and her children reformed society, they had a model to work from. Since then the society has grown with the powwow, and it now has a new team, including Hayley Rhodes, who is set to take over from Jack as the next executive director.

Putting together the powwow is a year-round effort. Not only does it require arranging the site for the event, and getting commitments from drummers and dancers across North America, it takes a lot of fundraising. The upcoming powwow at the SOEC will have more than double the prize pool of previous years, with $80,000 up for grabs.

Over 20 drum groups, each one from a different Indigenous tribe, are set to partake in the drum competition. Making the Pow Wow Between the Lakes one of the biggest in B.C., comparable to the powwow in Kamloops, has been another one of Jack’s goals, as one that can bring in people of all kinds, Indigenous and otherwise, to celebrate and share in the culture and traditions together.

The work on bringing back the Pow Wow Between the Lakes began while Jack was still teaching at Skaha Middle School, where it was a way of helping to educate kids. From the years there, with a budget of just $1,800, the core of the powwow’s roots in the traditions that Jack was raised with and passed down continues to stay strong.

“It’s for those little kids that can show their culture, that can show their regalia and their pride,” said Jack. “You know, there’s not one little kid out on that floor that’s sad, they all have a beautiful smile on their face.

“They’re all so proud to be dancing and doing what they’re doing.”

In addition to the year-round work that the powwow takes, Jack teaches the syilx language, and her family has own their business, the Jackpot, which serves up all manner of bannock. The business started up, unsurprisingly, as a family effort. They started by just selling out along the road in front of the family house and built up to serving up bannock dogs, bannock burgers, Indian tacos and more.

There’s also another business in the works with the family, with the plan to have a new building and location for it up and running in the next year.

Asked how she approaches handling multiple jobs and projects, Jack simply reiterated that she just makes it work.

“I don’t even think about it. I have seven kids and people say, ‘How did you do it?’ and I simply didn’t think about it, I just had to do it,” Jack said. “You just have to do what need to do.”

Even though she is handing over the reins of the Pow Wow Between the Lakes, Jack is ready with another dream she’s been waiting to start chasing.

“I’m organizing a powwow for Apex. I’ve always wanted to have a powwow up there, and walking away so the new generation can take this gives me the chance to organize that.

“It will be educational, not a competition, so people can come together and see all the regalia, all the food and all the dances.”

At the end of the day, making the Pow Wow Between the Lakes the largest in B.C. will take the community’s support, and Jack is certain she’ll have it.

“It is going to be a show that if you’re not there, you’re gonna miss out. It is going to be an absolutely beautiful celebration.”

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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