The Sacred Experience of a Traditional Pow Wow

This summer, generations of First Nations will gather to honour their ancient traditions, to share cultural dishes, dance, drums and song, and to foster healing in their communities.

The region we call ‘the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto” is located on the traditional lands and waterways of the Algonquin, the Anishinabek, the Mohawk and the Metis peoples, and we are honoured to share this information on how settlers can experience these sacred events, in the spirit of learning and reconciliation.

Niá:wen and Chi-Miigwech to our Indigenous friends for their generosity in inviting guests along. Read on to discover how you can participate.

Keira Barnhardt from Henvey Inlet First Nation in her hand-beaded regalia

Pow Wow Etiquette

Pow Wows are a welcoming space and to ensure a wonderful experience for everyone, please consider some rules of etiquette if you attend. Guidelines may vary between events, so check with the MC, Arena Director or Head Singer if you’re unsure of expectations and they will be happy to help answer questions.
The Grand Entry is the official opening of the Pow Wow, often lead by veterans, Flag Carriers and Head Dancers. As a sign of respect, standing and removing hats is the protocol during this opening. Some additional considerations:

  • Be on time
  • Dress and behave in a respectful manner
  • Remember that arena benches are reserved for dancers and some seating is always reserved for Elders – bringing your own lawn chair is a great idea
  • Be courteous and aware of those around you
  • The dancers wear regalia, which are handcrafted family heirlooms. Please do not touch a dancer’s regalia without permission
  • Drugs and alcohol are not allowed
  • No pets allowed
  • Ask before taking photos or videos
Phoenix from the Shawanaga First Nation at the Rosseau Lake College Pow Wow

Rosseau Lake College Fourth Annual Rosseau – June 7

The Rosseau Lake College Pow Wow began as a student initiative and has grown into an annual celebration bringing together members of local and shared communities. This year’s Pow Wow is honouring the theme of Water.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend and experience the unique atmosphere. Teachings are shared and participation is encouraged to join in and dance to the heart of the big drum. There are craft vendors, spot dances, potato dance, with prizes to be won. A cold lunch will be provided for a small donation with proceeds in support of this year’s Pow Wow.

Drumming at the Henvy Inlet First Nations Inter-Tribal Pow Wow

Henvey Inlet First Nations Annual Inter-Tribal Pow Wow French River Reserve No. 13, Grundy, ON – June 8-9

Located just above Grundy Lake Provincial Park, this will be their 21st Inter-Tribal Pow Wow with the focus being Community Leadership. Representatives from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick will be in attendance and there will be three Grand Entrances – 1pm and 7pm on the Saturday and noon on the Sunday. As well as drummers and dancers, there will be vendors on site for the weekend’s festivities.

Dokis First Nation‘s Pow Wow will focus on honouring youth

Dokis First Nation Annual Traditional Pow Wow Parry Sound/Sudbury/Nipissing – June 22-23

Dokis First Nation’s 22nd annual Pow Wow will be focusing on Honouring Youth.
The host drum will be High Noon from the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. This group was formed in the 1970s and its revolving members, mainly nephews and grandsons of the original founders, have won eight world singing titles. There will be three grand entries for this event – June 22 at noon and 7pm, and noon on the Sunday.

See Muskoka Through Our Eyes Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge – June 29-30

Celebrate and embrace Indigenous culture and the first See Muskoka Through Our Eyes Pow Wow. Join in cultural teachings, dancing and drumming and explore local craft vendors, traditional Indigenous food and more. The Grand Entry will be at 12.30pm on the Saturday and Sunday. There will also be a community social event on Saturday night from 7 to 10pm.

Dancers perform at the Shawanaga First Nation Pow Wow

Shawanaga First Nation Parry Sound – August 17-18

This will be the 27th annual Pow Wow and the theme will be Strengthening Our Spirit. The Grand Entry will be noon on both days and local food and craft vendors will be on site.

Incredible regalia on display at the French River Pow Wow

French River Pow Wow French River Provincial Park – September 6-7

Hosted by the French River Visitor’s Center First Nations and Aboriginal Advisory Committee there will be a medicine preparation and sacred fire starting at noon on September 6. The Grand Entry will be held on September 7 at noon. The theme of the 17th annual gathering is Sharing our Teachings.

Plan your epic summer getaway to the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto today.

Visit for more info.

Niá:wen and Chi-Miigwech to all the photographers who shared their photos.

Main Photo: Percy Tabobondung – Parry Island and Shawanaga, Phoenix – Shawanaga and Matthew Rutledge from Lac Seul. Photo by Jake Good