As always, the 32nd annual Squamish Nation Youth Powwow is all about the youth.
"It is a big deal for our youth," said Gloria Nahanee, one of the powwow organizers.
"The ones that are parents now, started when they were maybe 12 or 13 years old... They come back every year."
For some youth, it is their first job and first work reference, Nahannee said.
Her favourite moment of the event is on Saturday night when she takes a walk around the event grounds on the Capilano Reserve in West Vancouver and sees all the youth.
"They are laughing or dancing and we know where they are at and they are safe, that is what it is all about. To give them those three days of escape from the jungle."
The number of people who come from outside the community has grown year-over-year, according to Nahanee.
This year, people have enquired about the event from as far as the Middle East.
"People come from all over the world," Nahanee said. "It feels really good."
She recalled back in the mid-1980s when her Squamish Nation dance group performed Squamish songs and dances at the first Coho Festival in West Vancouver. The group's appearance was an apparent revelation for some locals.
"An elderly woman who lived in West Van came up to me afterward and said, 'I have lived here all of my life and I never knew you guys were so close by,'" Nahanee said with a laugh.
These days non-natives flock to the event for the food as well as the dances and Indigenous arts and crafts, Nahanee said.
Several cooks are involved with preparing the food, which includes bannock, chilli and of course, salmon.
A crowd favourite, Francis James, of the Stó:lō Nation, returns this year as the MC, his fifth or six time at the microphone, according to Nahanee.
"He grew up in the powwow since he was born," she said. "He is very traditional, spiritual — we rely on him a lot."
This year's event will be personally extra special for Nahanee as her daughter is getting married on Saturday, in the Shaker Church adjacent to the Nation's longhouse. At the powwow, there will be an honour song for the bride and groom.
For more on the event go to their Facebook event page: Squamish Nation Youth Powwow July 12-14 2019, Capilano Reserve.
Head to 100 Mathias Road in West Vancouver, for all the powwow fun.
Friday July 12 — 7 p.m.
Saturday July 13 — 1 & 7 p.m.
Sunday July 14 — 1 p.m.
Women’s Traditional Special: Honouring Gloria Nahanee
Men’s Traditional Special: Memorial for Joshua “MUSKWA” Potter
Outgoing Royalty: Roberta Lewis - Jr. Girls Fancy Shawl
Outgoing Royalty: Sariah Jacobs Green - Women’s Fancy Shawl
~ From Guidebook to Indigenous Protocol
(Reproduced with written permission from Bob Joseph, President, Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. www.ictinc.ca.)
Regalia: some of the articles are extremely old, some are sacred and they all take an extremely long time to make - do not touch without asking permission; don't refer to regalia as costumes.
Drums: the drum is the heartbeat of a pow wow, and some drums have traditions that dictate it can never be left unattended. Do not attempt to play or touch without permission; “Drum” also refers to the group of performers who play the instrument, such as the “host drum.”
Photographs: never take a picture of a dancer without first asking his or her permission, however, it is generally acceptable to take pictures of the dances. If in doubt, find an organizer and ask. Often, if a sacred event is taking place, the MC will announce that photos are not permitted. Sound recordings: again, permission must be sought before recording;
Grand Entry: always stand during the Grand Entry, which opens the powwow - the Eagle Staff is the lead, followed by flags, usually carried by Indigenous war veterans, then the dancers; other events may also require the audience to stand but the MC will make the announcement.
Alcohol: strictly forbidden.