Batchewana First Nation hosted National Anishinaabe Day at the canal site Thursday, with a pow wow serving as the event’s centrepiece.
Chief Dean Sayers says that although pan-Indigenous terms usually have good intentions behind them, Batchewana decided to rebrand its National Indigenous Peoples Day festivities in order to reflect the Anishinaabe culture that’s prevalent in this area.
“We’ve called today’s celebrations ‘Anishinaabe Day,’ and Anishinaabe is our people, as we’re the descendents from the first people that were lowered here,” Sayers said. “We see our history being more reflected in reference to Anishinaabe, so that’s what we’ve called today.”
A number of vendors and information booths were at the canal site for this year’s event, in addition to a number of activities geared toward children.
Prior to the grand entry for the pow wow, Chief Sayers told SooToday that there’s a willingness, or even a need, for people to share some of the more empowering aspects of Anishinaabe culture with mainstream society.
“For us what I’m recognizing, and that is naturally evolving from this, is the need to be able to share a lot of the empowering things that our people are about,” said Sayers. “This is nothing but positivity here, all the great things that we’re doing, we’re highlighting, we’re bringing to life.”
As people make last minute preparations for grand entry, Chief Sayers - who is dressed in full regalia - says that the present is all about creating positive, lasting memories for Anishinaabe children.
“We recognize that we haven’t had the best history, but we also need to look forward, and creating new memories for our kids and our families is where it’s at today,” Sayers said. “We’re here to really celebrate being Anishinaabe today.”
The festivities wrap up with a fireworks display from Whitefish Island at dusk.