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Students from several of Timmins’ English public schools filled the Archie Dillon Sportsplex on Friday for the second-annual powwow to be hosted by the students of the Timmins High and Vocational School.

“With our powwow we invite all people from all nations to participate. It’s a celebration of culture and a celebration of life,” said Jamie Davey, the Aboriginal youth liaison for District School Board Ontario North East. “When we dance, we invite our ancestors to come in and guide us through the celebration.”

Timmins High’s powwow got its start in 2014 when a group of students formed a committee to organize it. After the inaugural run last year, the event was moved to the Sportsplex so it could accommodate the more-than 600 students and community members who came out on Friday.

The goal of Friday’s powwow was to provide another opportunity for students to be exposed to Aboriginal culture, said Davey.

“For so many years, our culture hasn’t been practised. In Timmins itself there’s only one powwow — the one at Northern College — which happens once a year. So we held our powwow on a Friday so we could invite schools to bring their classes in so they could experience our culture.”

Students and community members from Timmins and nearby First Nations were dressed in their colourful and elaborate ceremonial regalia to take part in the dancing, drumming and singing on the arena floor. Dancers ranged from two-year-olds to adults in their 60s.

The White Stone Cree Singers, which is a group made up of members from several different local First Nations, provided the music for the event using their ceremonial drum.

“We have grass dancers, we have men’s traditional dancers, girls’ fancy shawl dancers, women’s traditional dancers, and women’s jingle dress dancers,” said Davey. “Every dancer has a role, and their dance style tells a story. It’s all about nature and balance.”

Even those who were not Aboriginal or wearing regalia had a chance to participate in the dancing after the ceremonial Grand Entry. Before long hundreds of students were dancing around the powwow circle as well.

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