Kamloopa Powwow honours indigenous culture

By Adam Donnelly
August 7, 2018 - 12:04pm Updated: August 7, 2018 - 1:14pm

KAMLOOPS — It’s one of the most impressive sights of the summer in Kamloops.

The Grand Entry at the Kamloopa Powwow on Saturday afternoon was chaotic and loud, swirling colours and throbbing drums, as hundreds of Indigenous people from across Western Canada and the United States dressed in their finest regalia and danced their way into the arbour at the Tk’emlups te Sepwepemc powwow grounds.

This weekend marked the 39th edition of this version of the Kamloopa Powwow, a special event for many of those who took part in the festivities.

One of the dancers was former BC Lieutenant Governor Steven Point, who says that taking part in the Grand Entry is good for the soul.

“It’s so powerful, when the Grand Entry happens,” Point told CFJC Today. “The song… that’s a prayer, and the people dancing. It’s a great medicine for me to still be dancing.”

The Grand Entry is an opportunity for all those who participate in the powwow to enter the arbour together. For Tk’emlups the Secwepemc Chief Fred Seymour, it’s his favourite part of the weekend.

“When all the dancers were… out here, standing out in the heart of the circle. That one year I think it took about an hour and a half to get all the dancers in!” Seymour said. “The Grand Entry brings out the general public… the stands are full.”

For many of those who take part in this event, it’s an annual tradition.

“I’ve been dancing since I could walk,” 16-year-old Alexis Kalelest Alec said. “I like how social [the powwow] can get, and I really do enjoy dancing.”

“In order to really become a full person, you have to know who you are, you have to be proud of who you are. Indigenous people, we’ve been through so much over the last century,” Point explained. “By putting on your culture, putting on your regalia it gives you a great pride in yourself, a great desire to succeed. Young people need that grounding and that direction.”

“When you’re out in the arbour and you’re doing the Grand Entry you can feel the power and the medicine within,” Seymour said. “From the little ones to the Elders. It’s good.”

Red-light cameras activated across B.C., including Kamloops