Despite a blazing sun that pushed the thermometer into the mid-30s range, thousands of people turned out for the Quw’utsun Intertribal Pow Wow at the Siem Lelum fields in Duncan last weekend.
“I was impressed that so many people survived the heat,” commented organizer Joe Thorne. “I think there must have been 2,000 each day.”
Thorne said the positive spirit of the three-day event is inspiring and educational for everyone involved.
“It was so great to see a lot of people come up and ask to take my picture, in my regalia and talk to me about the culture.”
Thorne says there were visitors from Quebec, China, Korea and many other places from around the globe.
“The cultural exchange is what I get out of it. You never stop learning. The people from Korea were just blown away by it all.”
This year’s pow wow was dedicated to missing and murdered indigenous women, an issue that is garnering national attention, aided by the work of the inquiry that is currently touring the country speaking to victims’ families and looking for solutions to the problem.
“We want people to know that we haven’t forgotten and we’re still waiting for answers,” Thorne said, adding that there are several families in the Cowichan Valley who have suffered the loss of a family member under mysterious circumstances.
The pow wow was also an opportunity to pay tribute to the George family. Children and grandchildren of a remarkable couple who were members of a sacred society showed they were ready to carry on the work of their beloved parents.
Behind all the colour and music, a corps of organizers worked tirelessly to put on a pow wow that brings dancers from Alberta, B.C. and Washington State to the Cowichan Valley.
“My brother Lester, my sister Dorothy and I would like to lift our hands to say thank you for your participation,” Thorne said.