By John Copley
(ANNews) – Spring is upon us and with it the beginning of the rodeo and pow wow seasons – and the first of the many events that will take place across western Canada this year gets underway tomorrow, Saturday – May 11, when Edmonton Catholic Schools, Aboriginal Learning Services and the Ben Calf Robe Society, in partnership with the City of Edmonton present the 38th Annual Ben Calf Robe Traditional Pow Wow.
The event will take place at Clarke Stadium, located at 11000 Stadium Road. This year there will be a slight change as the 2019 pow wow will be held outdoors in what promises to be a sun-filled day with temperatures close to to 24 degrees.
Visitors are encouraged to bring their own chairs. Craft booths and food venues will be available onsite.
The Ben Calf Robe Pow Wow is one of, if not the biggest traditional pow wow that takes place in Alberta every year. Thousands of spectators and hundreds of dancers wearing colourful and beautifully designed regalia, join more than two dozens drums in a celebration that embraces everything from culture and tradition to family values, education and purpose.
The annual event recognizes leaders in the community, honours Elders, remembers those who have come before; it is an educational experience and an exciting fun filled day. The pow wow has remained successful and in fact continues to grow in both numbers and popularity – but it doesn’t happen all by itself.
“It does take a fair amount of planning a great deal of coordination,” agreed event organizer Rhonda Metallic. “Thankfully it isn’t something that is delegated to just one or two people; we have a whole team involved, including an active group of Pow Wow Committee Members, school and city staff volunteers.”
The first Grand Entry will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and everyone is invited to come early; a Pipe Ceremony a takes place at 9:30 a.m with registration beginning at 11:00 a.m. The second Grand Entry gets underway at 6:00 p.m. A special Honouring Our Mothers celebration will take place at 8:00 p.m.
The quiet and nearby Igloo Room within Commonwealth Stadium has been established for the Elders.
There will be at least 24 Drums participating at this year’s event; the Saskatchewan-based, Wild Horse Drum Group, led by Henry “Boss” Gardipy Jr., is the Host Drum for the 38th annual pow wow. The group has traveled extensively across North America hosting and competing at powwows and in doing so have won two North American world class championships – one at the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the other at the Schemitzun Powwow in Hartford, Connecticut.
There will be at least 35 vendor tables, a list of speakers and greeters that will include words from the Edmonton Catholic School Division and welcoming comments from Council of Elders leader Betty Letendre.
The Master of Ceremonies for the event will include Hal Eagletail and Elmer Rattlesnake. Enoch’s Rocky Morin is this year’s Arena Director.
Intertribal dancing gets underway at 1:45 p.m.; the various dancers groups will include Tiny Tots, Junior Boys and Girls, Teen boys and girls, Adult men and women and Golden Age men and women categories. Tiny Tots will be paid for dancing as will the first eight drum groups who register for the 2019 event.
A Give Away Ceremony will take place at 10:00 p.m. and closing remarks will begin at 10:30, just before the retiring of the Eagle staffs and flags.
The Ben Calf Robe Traditional Powwow is a sight to behold and everyone is encouraged to attend this important event. The annual powwow is just one of the many activities that the Ben Calf Robe Society is involved with. The organization, whose motto reads: “Our children are sacred: our work strives to protect and enhance this sacredness by providing children and their families with holistic education, supportive social services and programs of high quality and cultural relevance,” offers several important programs and initiatives to help support children, women and families. The Society continues to support the Ben Calf Robe School but its primary purpose is to serve the larger community through its unique programs.
Ben Calf Robe Society was established in 1980 by a group of concerned citizens who looked at Native education in the City of Edmonton and discovered that approximately 80 per cent of Aboriginal children did not complete high school. Their solution was to establish a school where Aboriginal children felt accepted, culturally comfortable and thus encouraged to remain in school and complete their grade twelve. With the collaboration of the Catholic School Board, the Ben Calf Robe Society school was created.