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Photo from the 2019 Graduation Pow Wow.

Annual Traditional Graduation Pow Wow returns

Join us for this special celebration on May 7

April 14, 2022 — 

After two years, the Annual Traditional Graduation Pow Wow is back!

The annual celebration is one of the largest Pow Wows in the province and a way for the University of Manitoba to connect with the next generation of Indigenous leaders.

For the past two years, an online graduation celebration for Indigenous graduates was held in lieu of the event. This year, the in-person celebration will take place on May 7 at the Investors Group Athletic Centre on UM’s Fort Garry campus.

“We are thrilled to bring back the Graduation Pow Wow to both the UM and broader communities,” says Carla Loewen, director of the Indigenous Student Centre at UM. “Students have shown incredible resilience through the pandemic, and we look forward to celebrating the graduates and their accomplishments in person.”

Event schedule

9:30 a.m. – Pipe Ceremony

1 p.m. – Grand Entry

2:30 p.m. – Honouring the graduates

4 p.m. – Feast / cultural programming resumes

6 p.m. – Hoop dancers

7 p.m. – Closing prayer and payouts

POW WOW 101 / FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS A POW WOW?

Pow Wows are a traditional ceremony where people come together to dance and sing in celebration of life and the living. It is a time for communities to gather together to visit, dance, sing and celebrate culture and each other.

WHO CAN ATTEND?

Everyone is welcome to attend!

IS THERE AN ADMISSION FEE?

No, admission is free.

ARE MASKS REQUIRED?

Masks will be required at the Graduation Pow Wow. Please refer to UM’s Health and Safety Protocols webpage for up-to-date information on COVID-19 protocols – including acceptable mask types – at UM.

IS THERE A DRESS CODE?

There is no dress code for audience members; however, please dress modestly. For example, don’t wear a t-shirt with curse words on it. You’ll probably want to wear comfortable footwear. If you are wearing a hat, please remove it during the Grand Entry, Invocation, Honour, Memorial, Flag, Veterans, and Closing Songs.

THIS IS MY FIRST POW WOW. DO I HAVE TO SIGN UP? WHEN I ARRIVE, WHERE DO I GO?

Welcome to your first Pow Wow! No sign-up or registration is required – you can just show up. All guests and visitors are asked to enter the Pow Wow via the third-floor entrance. When you come in through the main entrance, take the stairs directly in front of you. If you need an elevator, there is one located to the left of the stairs. Once you enter the Pow Wow, you can sit anywhere in the stands/bleachers.

WHO ARE THE KEY PEOPLE AT POW WOWS?

The arena director is responsible for coordinating the dancers, drum groups and special guests who take part in special events and ceremonies at the Pow Wow.

The master of ceremony (or emcee) is responsible for announcing the events and guiding the Pow Wow. He/she keeps the order of the drum groups, explains the dances and protocols, tells jokes and announces events.

And of course, UM’s Graduation Pow Wow exists to honour the Indigenous graduates. Please help us congratulate them on their successes and wish them well.

We also have many volunteers who can help answer questions.

WHAT IS A GRAND ENTRY?

A Grand Entry signals the official beginning of the Pow Wow. It’s the time for the people involved to line up for a procession that brings them into the Pow Wow arena. It is lead by the Eagle Feather Staff, which, for many people, is a national symbol and flag. This Staff leads all other staffs and flags in the Grand Entry. The Eagle Staff is followed by flags (usually carried by Veterans), honoured guests, Princesses, Pow Wow organizers, dancers and graduates.

Please stand during the Grand Entry.

I’VE BEEN INVITED TO BE IN THE GRAND ENTRY. WHERE DO I GO?

When you arrive, please go to the VIP registration table beside the stage to sign in and get your nametag. Volunteers will show you where to line up. To learn more about Grand Entry, information sessions will be held prior to the event.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF DANCES?

At Graduation Pow Wow, you will see the Men’s Fancy Dress, Women’s Fancy Shawl, Men’s Traditional Dance, Women’s Traditional Dance, Jingle Dress, Grass Dance, Hoop Dance and Red River Jig.

THE REGALIA ARE BEAUTIFUL. AM I ALLOWED TO TOUCH?

No. Please do not touch anyone’s regalia. Please also refrain from touching other people’s hair/braids. These are all sacred and personal.

IT SAYS THE POW WOW IS AN ALL-DAY EVENT. AM I ALLOWED TO COME FOR JUST PART OF THE DAY?

Yes. You are welcome to come and go at any time during the day. Please check the schedule to be sure you are present for the specific parts of the days that are important to you.

HOW DO I GET TO THE FEAST?

The feast is taking place inside Investors Group Athletic Centre on the floor behind the stage. Please allow for Elders to be served first.

IS THERE A SCHEDULE?

Yes, please refer to the program or visit the website for the schedule of the day. Please note that while we try to stick to the schedule, unexpected things may come up. For example, if an Eagle Feather falls on the floor, all activity stops and there is a specific ceremony to “raise the Feather” that may take some time.

CAN I TAKE PICTURES?

Yes. However, do not take pictures during prayers or when the master of ceremonies has said not to. If you are taking pictures of dancers in regalia, it is always good to ask first.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER RULES I SHOULD BE AWARE OF?

Masks are required at the Graduation Pow Wow (please see earlier question with more details).

There is no drinking or drug use allowed. Please remember that the dance area is sacred, so refrain from swearing and other negative behaviour.

Selling crafts in the stands is prohibited.

The chairs on the main floor are reserved for singers and dancers.

Please help us keep the ceremony building clean. Put all garbage and recycling in the appropriate bins.

*Please be advised that there will be photos and videos taken during this event.

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