Whitefish River First Nation annual powwow small but mighty

A blanket dance held for dancer Mary Ellan Kitchikage, who is in intensive care in Sudbury, raised $465. photos by Michael Erskine

WHITEFISH RIVER—Nestled beneath the sacred gaze of Dreamer’s Rock at the end of the appropriately named Sunshine Alley the 25th Annual Whitefish River First Nation (Wawaskinaga) Traditional Gathering (aka powwow) theme this year was “Honouring and Protecting Our Water.” Fittingly, a large group of children could be seen honouring the water in the time-honoured fashion of children everywhere as they splashed and swam in the warm summer sun.

Each day of the gathering (from Thursday to Sunday) began with a sunrise ceremony

The sound of the host drum, Whitefish River’s own community drum Biitaabines, sounded out across the bay as things got underway with head veteran Gerry McGregor led the grand entry eagle staffs into the arena. Biitaabines was ably assisted by co-host drum High Eagle and guest drums Standing Chief, Anishinaabe Connection and Running River.

Head elders were Gloria Oshkabewisens McGregor and Wilfred Cywink and head dancers for the Saturday grand entry were Kiniw Lightning and Kelly Beaucage. Head veteran was Gerry McGregor and head fire keeper was James Wahsquonaikzhik. Eagle staffs in the grand entry included the Canadian Cancer Society held by Shane Finnigan, the Whitefish River First Nation veteran staff held by Brandon McGregor, the Shawanosowe staff borne by Nico Jacko and the Wiigwaaskinaga Community staff held by Chief Shining Turtle and Murray Still with the UCCM Police Services eagle staff.

Chief Shining Turtle welcomed community members and visitors to the gathering and invited everyone to enjoy a beautiful day. The opening prayer included a water song and then the gathering got down to business with plenty of dancing, great food and good company with veteran Master of Ceremonies Dan Fox keeping up a steady banter while arena director Gerry Kaboni ensured everything went forward smoothly.

Canoe races and boat tours were on hand for folks to enjoy and there were Two Step and hand drum contests to keep everyone entertained.

On Sunday morning, Junior Miss Wawaskinaga Nova Waindubence, Miss Wawaskinaga Brittnee Bear Little Waindubence and Miss Wawaskinaga Dalyla McGregor were chosen to represent the community over the coming year.