Gus Timoyakin in his traditional dress at the opening ceremonies of the Indigenous Day powwow at the Shatford Centre, Thursday.

Powwow – “teaching others how to be teachable”

The annual Indigenous Day powwow at the Shatford Centre

For people of all cultures, on the grounds of the Shatford Centre, Thursday was a special celebration of the one culture.

For the third year, the centre hosted its Indigenous Peoples Day powwow providing an opportunity for people to see, feel, taste and learn just what First Nations are all about.

“The gathering of our people here today is to celebrate the understanding of our people coming together, that we do live together and work together and that comradeship is to bring understanding with less blame or faults,” said elder and teacher Gus Timoyakin (Morning Star in his language). “The powwow is to celebrate some of the differences, to teach others to be teachable and live a life of understanding and acceptance.

“I teach in the school district to let non-native students know that we still drum, we still sing, hunt, fish speak our language and live culturally the way we’ve been raised and taught.”

Timoyakin who runs a learning program in the Penticton school district called Tipi Talk had his own tipi set up on the grounds and had many of the items and tools First Nations peoples used and still use. He also spent time telling stories to any and all who visited his traditional lodging.

Related: Aboriginal Day celebrated

“On both sides, there needs to be less stereotyping, we’re not wagon burners, we’re not killers, we’re not savages, not heathens, were are here with a sense of belonging,” he said. “This celebration is to balance that in a good way.”

Chief Chad Eneas of the Penticton Indian Band was among those who spoke at the opening ceremonies.

“I just want to say how important this is,” Eneas told the crowd. “Look around, we’re all here to enjoy the day. Don’t be afraid to say hi (to a stranger) and tell them who you are. I think that’s a really important part of our community, life gets so busy.

“I was over at the hospital earlier this day and it was the first time the staff had got together to recognize National Indigenous Day and it’s 2018 and it was the first time and it was a real honour to be part of that.”

Among those attending the powwow was Betty Allen who brought along her three-year-old granddaughter Emma.

Related: Chefs showcase Indigenous cuisine in B.C.

“I just think this is a really good way of letting her see First Nations culture, seeing the dancers and the drums so that when maybe when she gets older it’s something that is familiar, at least a little bit to her and she’ll want to learn more about it,” said Allen. “This (event) is a really good idea for everyone but maybe they should do it more than once a year.”

Along with the Shatford Centre, a number of other organizations helped organize the powwow including En’owkin Centre, Indigenous Education-School District 67, Ooknakane Friendship Centre, Okanagan College, Penticton Historical Society, South Okanagan Restorative Justice and the Shatford Centre.

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Seven-year-old Christian Schellenberg moves to the beat of the drums at the Indigenous Day celebrations.

At left, a member of Healing Thunder drummers Laurent Isadore performs with his group at the Shatford Centre Thursday during the Indigenous Day powwow.

Elder and story teller Gus Timoyakin shared his lore with visitors to his teepee. Mark Brett/Western News

A costumed dancer awaits his turn at the Indigenous Day powwow at the Shatford Centre. Mark Brett/Western News

Above, members of the Highwater Drum Group provide the music for dancers at the Indigenous Day powwow Thursday.

First Nations dancer Leroi Bent was among the performers at the Indigenous Day powwow on the grounds of the Shatford Centre Thursday. Mark Brett/Western News

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