Island hoop dancer places third at 2021 world championships

The smile of a champion! Celina-Cada Matasawagon, from Zhiibaahaasing, placed third in her division at the World Hoop Dance championships held this past weekend. Ms. Matasawagon, who now lives in Manotick, Ontario, also won the people’s choice award in her category.

MANOTICK – Whether it is in person, or this year virtually, you can count on Celina Cada-Matasawagon to take part in the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest, and faring extremely well in the competition—a trend she continued with this year’s event.

“Yes, I did take part this year, virtually,” Ms. Cada-Matasawagon, who is from Zhiibaahaasing First Nation and now lives in Manotick, told the Recorder this past Monday. “This competition is annually held in Phoenix, Arizona, but this year it had to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Being held virtually, Ms. Cada-Matasawagon explained, “the official actual competition was held and shown (online) this past weekend, but all participants had to submit a video of their hoop dance performance by late January.” The competition also included a people’s choice (voting) award category which carried on until February 11.

“This past Saturday a grand entry was shown, with Dennis Boweran as the master of ceremonies,” said Ms. Cada-Matasawagon. “What they did after that was play every youth division participant dance video, and then announce who finished first to third in each of the youth divisions.” 

“And before they went through the adult division, they did an online tribute to Nakota Lacroix, a young man in his late 20s or early 30s who passed away last year. He was a hoop dancer who had won championships all the way from being a youth to an adult and started a hoop dance school. He was quite inspirational to a lot of people. In his society he had maybe 10-15 dancers he taught in class, including his sister.” 

Knowing Mr. Lacroix, “and having been inspired by his efforts over the years, it was hard to watch the ceremony without getting emotional,” said Ms. Cada-Matasawagon. “I never saw him without a smile on his face, and he encouraged and worked with young people; it was inspiring.”

In the competition, Ms. Cada-Matasawagon, in the seniors’ (40-plus) category, finished third in this division. She was also selected for the people’s choice award, having received 375 likes from viewers of the competition. There were eight competitors in her category. 

“Yes, it seems I always do well in this competition, but I haven’t finished in the top three for a while,” said Ms. Cada-Matsawagon. Her husband taped her hoop dance performance to be sent into the competition.  

“I’ve been going to this world championship competition since about 1995 when Gordie Odjig took a bunch of us to the competition, event,” said Ms. Cada-Matsawagon. “I go almost every year; I think I’ve missed one year due to a snowboarding injury.”