Okanagan dancing to the beat of many drums at the Pow Wow Between the Lakes

Flag bearers lead the grand entry on the second day of the Pow Wow Between the Lakes. (Mark Brett - Western News)
Colourful regalia worn during the dance competitions. (Mark Brett - Western News)
The faces of the 2019 the Pow Wow Between the Lakes. (Mark Brett - Western News)
Laura Grizzlypaws holds Tyee Retasket during the grand entry ceremonies. (Mark Brett - Western News)
The host drum High Water Drummers provided some of the music for the dancers. (Mark Brett - Western News)
Jamie Stimson gets Bella Armstrong ready for her performance. (Mark Brett - Western News)
Two-year-old Isabella Michel holds her father’s hand during her dance. (Mark Brett - Western News)
Eaison Cote, 4, is the picture of concentration during the tots dance competition at the Pow Wow Between the Lakes Saturday. (Mark Brett - Western News)
Lennard Supernault of Williams Lake competes in the men’s dance competition. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Day two of the Pow Wow Between the Lakes featured dancers of all ages performing traditional steps.

Organized by the Four Seasons Cultural Society the three-day event is a celebration of the culture and traditions of the Syilx (Okanagan) people.

Read More: Biggest First Nations cultural event in the South Okanagan returns

It takes place on the grounds of the Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School, with a dense ring of chairs and tents set around the dancing circle. All across the grounds young children were running and playing, a welcome sight for organizer Kristine Jack.

“As I was a child, running around the Pow Wow, I was one of these little kids,” Jack said as she pointed towards the play equipment covered in children. “To see them, with smiles on their faces and having a great time, that’s what it’s about. That’s why we do this every year.”

147 competitors, 27 more than last year, from Western Canada and the United States are taking part, dressed in their colourful regalia. Men, women, and children were all dressed and dancing, and the sound of drums and singing could be heard all around the school.

“I overlooked what we have right now, and I thought my mom would be so proud. I know she is, but as well, I know all our ancestors and our elders that remember the Pow Wow we used to have years ago; we brought it back, and it’s here to stay,” said Jack. “Doesn’t matter where we’re going to have this in Penticton, we’re going to keep this Pow Wow going.”

Year over year, the Pow Wow has grown in numbers and reach, and with the fifth scheduled for next August, there are hopes to expand further.

“Year five, I wanted to be in Okanagan Lake Park, this is year four,” said Jack. “I would love to have the whole city of Penticton be able to come in and enjoy our event. And I think Lake Okanagan Park right now is looking pretty good.

On Sunday, the last of five cycles of dance and competition begins at 1 p.m. at the Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School.

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