UC student Ziigwen Mixemong will have a central role in the powwow organized by the Indigenous Studies Students' Union(ISSU) at the University of Toronto on Sunday. She is the membership co-ordinator of ISSU and will be the head female dancer at the event. Organizers are aiming to top last year's powwow, which was the first at the university in decades and drew hundreds of people.
The theme is once again “Honouring our students,” and Mixemong says the event comes at a critical time. Across the country, Indigenous Peoples are struggling with the acquittals of two men in separate cases who were charged in the deaths of 22-year-old Cree man Colten Boushie and 15-year-old Anishinaabe teen Tina Fontaine.
UC alumna Jennifer Sylvester, a master's student and head of the powwow committee at ISSU, says this year's event is “by students and for students” – and not just those already enrolled at U of T.
“Young children who come the day of the powwow, they'll say, ‘Look at all those Indigenous faces. They did this. I want to be here because I'm represented here,” she says.
Above photo: Kelly Brownbill (right) leads a smudging ceremony before a volunteer orientation for the powwow, organized by the Indigenous Studies Students' Union (photo by Geoffrey Vendeville)