There seems to be a misconception in the general public that powwows are only open to First Nations people, said Doug Comegan.
But that’s not the case with the Noongam Powwow, which takes place this weekend.
“We’re trying to educate the general public,” said Comegan, the powwow co-ordinator. “They just assume that it’s not open to them, but it is. We practice inclusion.”
For centuries, First Nations people gathered at powwows to dance, drum, sing eat, and share stories, said Comegan.
Comegan is expecting more than 1,000 people to attend the powwow at Queen Juliana Park near Dow’s Lake this weekend, many of whom are coming from across Ontario, Quebec and the United States.
Sunrise ceremonies will take place on Saturday and Sunday morning, with free breakfast for people taking part, said volunteer Jill Finlayson. Saturday evening is also the community feast.
This is the 12th year that the Noongam Powwow has taken place in Ottawa, and while they do it to share their culture with everyone, Comegan said it is important that next generation learn to take pride in their identity as a Native person.
“Sometimes young people struggle in life and we thought we could leave something behind for them to hold onto to help with their self-esteem, so they could know who they are.”