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‘I never dreamed it would be this big’: Penticton Pow Wow a hit

The Pow Wow Between the Lakes brought in people from across North America

The Pow Wow Between the Lakes not only met expectations for organizers, but it also exceeded them.

More than 140 dancers from not just B.C. but across Canada and the United States, multiple drum groups including four for the competition, and over 100 volunteers helped put together a spectacular event starting on June 23 and ending on June 25.

“We’re over the moon with the people that came, that wanted to be a part of it,” said Kristine Jack, one of the head organizers with the Four Season Cultural Society. “I’m speechless. I was so emotional after it was over, I dreamed big, but I never dreamed it would be this big.”

Over the weekend, and after it, messages flooded in with praise for the event. Not just from attendees, but from the dancers, vendors and drummers. Everyone loved the event, and there was nothing but thanks to those who put it on.

“It was an incredible weekend. Hearing all the feedback, it really validated all the hard work that went into it,” said Haley Regan, the volunteer coordinator for the Pow Wow. “I think the number one compliment we got was that this was the most well-organized powwow anyone had ever been to.”

Along with the many highlights of the dances and drum competitions, there were several special events, including a wedding between the Head Man and Head Woman of the powwow, and the Overdose Awareness round-dance. The dance saw the seats of the SOEC empty as the floor filled with enough people for three circles.

It was an emotional moment, and the host Southern Express drum group shared a second song to keep the moment going.

“I really want people who weren’t able to attend to see the effect of that dance, so they can feel the love and that medicine spread out, to let people know that we love and support them and that we’re honouring them in this good way,” said Regan.

The special dance will be a likely returning highlight in 2024 as well, as the issue touches so many in the community. And with the powwow wrapped up for the year, the Four Season Cultural Society is already looking ahead to 2024.

“Now that we have figured out what works and what doesn’t at the SOEC, we have a template we can take into next year,” said Regan.

On top of what has already been proven to work, more ways to get the community involved and expand the powwow are being discussed. Jack said that they are planning to bring in the salmon feast, canoe racing, and educational interactive experiences that the youth can engage with at the powwow.

Jack is also working on several grants that she hopes will expand the reach of the event, once she hears back from the city and mayor, which will allow the society to make the first day of the powwow a free event.

“You heard it hear first,” said Jack. “National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, 2024. Pow Wow Between the Lakes at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

“We’ll see you all there.”

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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