Pow Wow in Smiths Falls

Promotional - Events | Town of Smiths Falls

Purpose of Project (including anticipated outcomes)
Our first Pow Wow brought together students from the Indigenous Studies program at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute and our Economic Development and Tourism Department. Objectives included educating youth, town councilors, and the public about First Nations culture and importance of Reconciliation, while sharing this unique Canada 150 ‘celebration’ with visitors alongside our beautiful waterfront at the heart of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Effectiveness / Meeting Objectives (if known)
Over 1,200 people attended, including 100+ First Nations participants. With a population of about 9,000, this is significant. The groups that came together do NOT usually share these celebrations of their culture for political reasons (i.e. Status vs. non-status communities) but in the spirit of education for our youth and the community at large, all invited groups did participate and it was an eye-opening experience for all. This event met objectives by:
• sharing the spirit of Reconciliation with First Nations, residents, and visitors,
• respecting the importance of the landscape and setting for a traditional Pow Wow,
• teaching target audiences about the rituals practiced by our First Nations cultures,
• educating youth about First Nations history and issues while also enabling them to research and understand and share their learning with their community, and
• defining ‘reconciliation’ and reconcile that with ‘celebration’ of Canada’s history and the growth (and challenges) in our community.

Challenges & Changes Made
Our challenge was to both celebrate the rise of Smiths Falls over the last 150 years (‘Rise at the Falls’) and the complicated history of First Nations (where we spoke about ‘adding a few zeroes to the idea of 150’). Our solution was to focus on educational aspects; students prepared installations on the impact of colonization on First Nations culture (visual details that formed a ‘quilt’) and a memorial ‘garden’ featuring mounted red dresses with attached photos and stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

Target Audience (demographics)
Target audiences included youth (a target demographic for Canada 150 events), residents, tourists from the region, and visitors to the Town from Europe (through future marketing efforts to publicize the event to Le Boat customers) and other International markets.

The full support from the Upper Canada District School Board and the administration of SFDCI, as well as Town Council, makes it very likely that this event will continue in future.

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