ZHIIBAAHAASING FIRST NATION – As well as the main theme being brought home to Zhiibaahaasing First Nation community members about the importance of water, a second message was brought home by a member of the community about commitment, dedication and staying focused on your dreams and goals at this year’s powwow celebration.
“Our theme this year is ‘We Must Protect Our Water Because Water is Precious’,” stated Irene Kells, Chief of the Zhiibaahaasing First Nation of the theme of this year’s 23rd annual pow-wow, held August 24-25.
“We are focussing on water and how it is so important to all of us—how it needs to be protected in every way possible,” said Chief Kells.
Each of those who spoke to the many people gathered at the powwow emphasized the need to protect water and why it is so important to each of them.
Sunday’s festivities included a special hoop dance demonstration and presentation by an Ottawa resident who is from Zhiibaahaasing First Nation and has fared very well at major body-building competitions. As was reported in last week’s Recorder, Celina Cada-Matasawagon competed in the recent 2019 Natural Canada Pro Qualifier body building competition. At the competition held in Toronto, she placed second in fitness in the Women’s Fitness Class B Division.
Ms. Cada-Matasawagon also provided a heartfelt message to members of the community, including youth about pursuing their dreams. “I shared this story yesterday as well. I have been on a journey for a long time. Irene (Kells) inspired me to do what I want and to focus on my dreams and goals and dancing has taken me all over the world.”
Ms. Cada-Matasawagon has been a teacher for 13 years in the Ottawa area and in 2007 she was selected for a Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellent-Outstanding New Teacher Aboriginal Alternative School in Ottawa/ She received the award “for increasing opportunities for aboriginal students to build self esteem and pride in their heritage.”
She also organized trips and helped find classrooms for students who were evacuated from Kashechewan. In addition, Ms. Cada-Matasawagon has developed courses that incorporate culturally relevant material such as outdoor education credits, that include dog sledding and winter camping.
She said, “my message to young people is that it takes work, dedication and commitment to attain your dreams. I recently finished in second place in a national fitness competition; it takes a lot of work and dedication, eating properly and being fit. I’m one of the few First Nations people that dances at these type of competitions and I bring my culture in my routine with the hoops dance.”
“It was always my dream to bring something different to these competitions, so I brought the hoop dance as part of my routine at nationals,” continued Ms. Cada-Matasawagon. “If you have a dream or goal, don’t give up,” she said, noting “I have been drug and alcohol free my whole life.”
“As aboriginal people we need to keep our culture and customs alive,” stated Ms. Cada-Matasawagon, who encouraged everyone, “to cherish water. We all need water and it needs to be protected.”
Chief Kells said that Ms. Cada-Matasawagon’s presentation of her hoop dance was about water and respecting it as well as focussing on your dreams and goals. The hoop dance presentation was well-received by all.
Ms. Cada-Matasawagon was the head female adult dancer for the powwow with her husband Dale being head male dancer. Youth Male dancer was Montana McGregor and youth female was Cheyenne Waindubence of Sheguiandah First Nation.
Host drum for the powwow was Redman Singers, with Zac Williams drum keeper; co-host drum Thunder Earth with Craig Fox as drum keeper; and Blue Stone Singers with Rod Nettagos as drum keeper.