The Indigenous Studies Students’ Union (ISSU) will be holding its third annual Pow Wow today at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport beginning at 11:00 am. In anticipation of the event, ISSU executives sat down with The Varsity to explain more about what students can expect from this celebration of Indigenous culture.
After a more than 20-year hiatus, the Pow Wow was brought back to U of T in 2017 as a way for the university to honour Indigenous students, as well as to provide an opportunity for the community “to get involved and learn a little bit more about Indigenous culture than just colonization,” said Chantell Jackson, a fourth-year student and ISSU executive member.
“A Pow Wow really is just a big celebration,” said second-year Indigenous student and ISSU executive member Samantha Giguere. “It’s a place to come and have a good time and just enjoy Indigenous culture and tradition.”
The Pow Wow will feature food stands, craft vendors, drum groups, and dancers in a long celebration from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. After 6:00 pm, the event will move to Hart House for a feast hosted in the Great Hall. The entire event is free of charge.
All of the executive members emphasized that students should go to the Pow Wow expecting to have fun, to dance, and to eat good food.
“Everyone should come and expect to be welcomed, to participate, and to leave hopefully with their bellies full,” said Jackson.
The Pow Wow is organized with the help of volunteers and partners from all over Toronto and across the U of T community, and has received donations and support over the years from groups such as New College and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.
When asked why students should go to the Pow Wow, third-year student and ISSU executive member Daisy Enright said that, as a non-Indigenous person, the event helped her to gain a better understanding of her role as a “colonizer on this land.”
“[The Pow Wow is] so beautiful to see and there’s no way to describe it. Even pictures don’t do it justice,” said Enright. “I think everybody in their lifetime should go to a Pow Wow at least once. And if you’re at U of T, why not go to U of T’s Pow Wow.”
Adding to Enright’s comments, Giguere said that the Pow Wow acts as a reminder that “Indigenous people are very much still here and the culture is still very alive and vibrant.”
“This Indigenous celebration and Indigenous space belongs within the institution of U of T… It’s not an outside thing that is adjacent to U of T. It belongs within this place.”