Powwow recognizes and honours all warriors

Dancers and visitors to the Zhiibaahaasing First Nation powwow take part in a round dance as part of the event held last weekend.

ZHIIBAAHAASING—Warriors are not only those that fight in wars and maintain peace, they come in all different forms and occupations.

“Our theme for this year’s powwow is ‘Honouring our Warriors’,” stated Irene Kells, chief of the Zhiibaahaasing First Nation at the community powwow celebrations held this past weekend. “We had several of our leaders here yesterday (Saturday) telling stories of what a warrior means to them.”

“We all know people around us and in our communities that have different jobs, tasks and many work very, very hard,” said Chief Kells. “People helping out and helping your community are all warriors. If not for all the people that help in the community they would not run as well as they do. For instance, our water plant operator, he is a warrior. I want to thank all those who shared stories about what they feel a warrior is.”

Chief Kells made her remarks following the grand entry and the eagle staff presentation and the invocation that was provided by elder Raymond Jackson on Sunday afternoon.

The Zhiibaahaasing First Nation held its 20th annual powwow this past weekend. The theme for this year’s powwow was ‘Honouring Our Warriors.’
The Zhiibaahaasing First Nation held its 20th annual powwow this past weekend. The theme for this year’s powwow was ‘Honouring Our Warriors.’

“We all had a real awesome time yesterday,” said Chief Kells. “There was lots of activities, friends and activities on the powwow grounds at the community—and lots of fun.”

This year marks the 20th annual powwow in Zhiibaahaasing, said Chief Kells.

“For the past 20 years we have had Gerard Sagassige as master of ceremonies, and he has taught us a lot,” said Chief Kells. She acknowledged years ago, when the idea of a powwow in the community was broached, that “I said we are too small to have a powwow. But we tried, and with the help of our elders in the past, we got the powwow started. We are still learning. Yes, we make mistakes, but that’s how you learn.”

“This is all for our children and grandchildren,” continued Chief Kells. “These children and the ones we want and need to teach about our culture and powwow traditions.”

“I would like to wish everyone a good day,” stated Chief Kells. She praised all the dancers who participated in the powwow and the five drums. “I want to thank the drummers who started off the day so beautifully.”

She went on to add that, “there is no time for negatives; children are happy and playing and this is all part of the powwow, to sit and visit, listen to the great music, watch the dancers, sit and visit and let the kids play.”

“That person, ladies and gents, is our warrior,” stated band Councillor Kevin Mossip, referencing Chief Kells. “For 47 years I’ve followed her and worked side by side with her for over 20 years. If you help someone selflessly, work for a cause, help a family and a community. That is what our chief does.”

“To the drums we have here this weekend, I’m very, very impressed,” said Councillor Mossip. “On behalf of band council and community members, thank you. To the dancers who are here to help celebrate our 20th anniversary, thank you.”

On Saturday Chief Kells was honoured by the community with a special presentation; while Sunday’s service included Liz Durham presenting jackets her husband Fred wore while serving in the Korean War in the 1950s to community veterans-elders at the powwow. Elder Raymond Jackson of Wikwemikong presented a deer hide jacket to Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha for his efforts on behalf of First Nations people.

The head male and female dancer for the powwow was Austin and Chelsea Debassige, with the head youth dancers including Kennedy Nakogee and Johnny Antoine. The five drums for the powwow included Young Biiseneh as host drum, Genaabaajing Jrs., Chigeezis Singers, Nimkee Tribal and Spirit Bear Singers. Head elders were Raymond Jackson and Irene Kells, arena director was Robert Stonypoint.