Toddish McWong goes to Squamish Nation Pow Wow

Toddish McWong takes his kilt to
Squamish Nation Pow Wow

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Here I am trying to learn a simple First Nations dance step from my 2nd cousin Shelley on my right, as we dance in the closing event at the 23rd Annual Squamish Nation Pow Wow.

I had never been to a First Nations Pow Wow before, so when my 2nd cousin Shelley sent me a Facebook message about the 23rd Annual Squamish Nation Pow Wow, and that she was going to watch her nieces compete in dance competition, I knew I had to be there.

The event was held at X̱wemelch'stn Park, also known as the Capilano Indian Reserve near the South end of Capilano Road in North Vancouver.  I had grown up in North Vancouver since I was 14 years old, and have driven through the reserve many times going to Park Royal.  I had only once before attended and event at the Capilano Longhouse once before in 1990, when the Squamish Nation presented David Suzuki with an eagle feather.  Soon after, I visited Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) where I met carver Claude Davidson, father of renowned artist Robert Davidson, and also traveled to the ancient village site of Skedans.

When I was about 7 years old, my favorite book was titled “Indian Lore and Craft”, I became enamored of creating buckskin clothes, moccasins, face paint, bows and arrows and other accessories.  But I never followed up.

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Here I am with my cousin Shelley Ferguson. 

Shelley's mother is Rhonda Larrabee is Chief of Qayqayt First Nations, and the subject of the NFB documentary Tribe of One.  I have often written about Rhonda and her courage to re-establish the Qayqayt First Nations in New Westminster.

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Shelley's nieces danced in the “jingle dance” competition.
Latisha is on the left in blue and Alyssa is
in the middle in red. They both have been the Squamish Nation
Princesses. 🙂

I found lots of aspects of interculturalism happening at the Pow Wow:
Click on each of the pictures for an enlargement on my Flickr account.

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Here is a Japanese parasol being carried by one of the child dancers to keep the sun off.

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The dancer on the left wears an RCMP serge tunic combined with leggings from an old Hudson's Bay Company blanket – very vintage.  The dancer on the right has combined a red/green tartan cloth in both his hat and rustle.

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These dancers' costumes are made from very colourful designs that resembled Tibetan designs.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the event:

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This is the “Potato Dance Special” – you have to hold a potato between your forehead and your partner's.  Then you are asked to keep doing dance movements, or lift your hands or feet into the air, or even jump!  Last couple with a potato between their heads wins!


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This young dancer is waiting for the Fancy Shawl dancer to begin

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Male traditional dance

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I love the expressions on these dancers with their painted faces.  They are plains Indians.

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Detail of a Rustle with eagle feathers.

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Salmon dinner with traditional baked salmon, bannock and
macaroni.

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Here is a video of two of my favorite male dancers at the event.  The dancer with the Purple top, has a green & crimson red tartan as a loin cloth and also on his hat.  The dancer with the eagle head mask is wearing a vintage RCMP red serge tunic with HBC blanket leggings.  Watch the background for a female dancer in a red & black jingle dance costume – that's the niece of my cousin Shelley.  At the end of the video, watch for a young boy in a white tunic with a yellow porcupine headdress with 2 eagle feathers – pretty intense performance, eh?

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This video is a very intense… This is the two finalists for senior male fancy dance.  It was a great way for the dance competitions to end!

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