Wikwemikong 56th annual Cultural Festival celebrates culture and heritage

WIKWEMIKONG—It was a busy weekend at the 56th annual Wikwemikong Cultural Festival, with visitors from near and far attending to see the amazing dancing, music and art the festival offered.

The master of ceremonies this year was Allan Manitowabi and Ryan McMahon, while Wesley Cleland took on the role of arena director. The smoke dance singer was Jordan Smith of Tuscarara, New York. The head drum judge was Gary Parker of Tonawanda Seneca, New York, while the head dance judge was Elizabeth Webkamigad of Wikwemikong. The head veteran this year was Robert Eshkibok of Wikwemikong.

The head dancers were Alex Copenace and Caitlin Big George. During grand entry the Anishinaabek Eagle Staff was carried by Bnaaswi Biiawah. The Wikwemikong Eagle Staff was carried by Wayne Pitawanakwit and the Addicition and Recovery Addiction Staff was carried by Daniel Pelletier. Flag carriers included Ray Trudeau with the Flag of Wikwemikong, Jerry Cleland with the 1764 Wampum Flag, Reid Christie with the POW Staff, Martin Kimewon with the US Flag, Rene Espaniel with the Native Canadian Flag and DJ White with the War of 1812, Forgotten Ones Flag.

Drum groups this year, which kept the heartbeat of the powwow, were host drum Whitefish Bay, High Eagle, High Ridge, Shake Island, Wild Cubs, Gewaabaajiufrs and Battle Nation.

Among the many dancing competitions was a crowd favourite, the women’s fancy iron special and men’s fancy iron special. Celine Morrison was the women’s winner, while Adrian Trudeau took home the men’s win.

Azhibakones Trudeau was named the new Little Miss Wikwemikong and Cheyenne White, Miss Wikwemikong 2016.

Special guests this year were the Wushu Project from Toronto performing the Lion Dance. The Lion Dance has been part of the Chinese culture for hundreds of years and was performed on special occasions such as weddings, store openings, festivals and celebrations. The lion, a symbol of power, wisdom and good fortune, brings happiness, longevity and good luck. In addition, the dance has now become a national level sport.

In addition  to the great dancing, amazing regalia and food, there was an art show, craft vendors and workshops. Many of the workshops focused on heritage and culture and included regalia and dance, the Seven Grandfather teachings, and a history of the Ojibwe language.