The gymnasium in Pictou Landing First Nation was a place of celebration on Saturday as people gathered for the 27th annual PLFN Mawio’mi.
The events brought dancers, drummers, vendors and spectators together from Pictou Landing First Nation and communities as far as Maine and Quebec.
Despite the rain and the move indoors, co-lead organizer Haley Bernard said everything went very well.
“We’re all here. That’s the most important thing. As long as everyone’s here and happy.”
The events of the weekend included a sacred fire, family dance, grand entry on Saturday and Sunday with dancers in regalia, a chili and luskinikn contest, and bingo.
Bernard said the Mawio’mi, which means gathering and is a celebration of Mi’kmaq culture, takes all year to plan — from the initial fundraising stage and ensuring the committee has enough people to the event’s organization and actual events.
The theme this year was “Honouring our Community.”
“I think it’s important, especially this year, considering everything that our community has gone through. Right now in Canada, the TRC — Truth and Reconciliation — and Boat Harbour for us, it’s important we are always honouring our community because that’s what keeps us thriving not only in our culture and our language. … That’s all we have is one another.”
Lead dancer Carter Hatfield of Pictou Landing First Nation said he travels to take part in powwows all over the province, Quebec and the United States.
He has been involved since he could walk, he said, and is now 18 years old.
“I find it’s good to stay with your culture, so you never lose it, so you always know where you’re coming from and where home is.”
Dancer Marsha Herney also travels to different powwows throughout the summer nearly every weekend with her husband and children and has been involved with the PLFN Mawio’mi since the early 1990s. Herney said she travels for powwows to encourage her children to go to them and sees it as an opportunity to offer prayers and help to other communities.
“It’s important because, as you’re dancing, you’re praying, not just for yourself, but for your community and whichever community you’re in. To me, it heals. It’s like a release of energy and happy thoughts,” she said.
She added some thoughts on what the theme of “Honouring our Community” means to her.
“Without the community, you’re nobody. Community is family and you got to celebrate family just like you celebrate life.”