Richie Seward of Chilliwack loves the traditional hand drum and sings to lift spirits of those in need. He'll be at the Spirit of the People Powwow at the Landing Sports Centre April 20-22.

Richie Seward of Chilliwack loves the traditional hand drum and sings to lift spirits of those in need. He'll be at the Spirit of the People Powwow at the Landing Sports Centre April 20-22.

Traditional powwow returns to Chilliwack

Take in the colourful sights and sounds of a traditional powwow at the Chilliwack Landing Sports Centre April 20-22.

Spirit of the People Powwow is returning to Chilliwack this weekend for the first time in two years.

Aboriginal dancers, drummers and the public will take in all the colourful sights and sounds of a traditional powwow at the Chilliwack Landing Sports Centre on April 20-22.

Drummer Richie Seward is excited about participating in the powwow.

“I love the drum,” he said. “I go whenever I’m called for drumming at ceremonies and gatherings right across Sto:lo territory.

“We uplift the spirits of people in need for various occasions.”

His traditional hand drum was made from red cedar, deer hide and antler. For the design he used the logo from his drum group, Sasquatch Visions.

The Spirit of the People Powwow is rising — again — out of the ashes of the once hugely popular Chilliwack Powwow, a competition event which at its pinnacle attracted thousands of people with $50,000 in prize money.

“We grew up with that powwow and were always so proud that it became one of the biggest powwows in B.C.,” said Francine Douglas, member of the organizing committee.

Several members of the old committee are still involved, and urging all Chilliwackians to come out for the aboriginal showcase, with lots of arts and crafts vendors and food like Indian tacos, and bannock.

A hand drum contest will be in the spotlight again, as well as specials like men’s fancy, men’s traditional, and teen girls’ fancy, so it’s shaping up to be a one-of-a-kind powwow event.

The return of the hand drum contest at the powwow reflects the Sto:lo cultural practice of using the hand drum to sing traditional and original songs, as opposed to powwow drumming with a large drum in the centre and drummers all around it.

“We started this new contest because we wanted to showcase the smaller Sto:lo hand drum,” Douglas said. “It’s a different style of drumming, and it’s a beautiful art form.”

There will still be some modest prize money given out in family-sponsored contest specials, so everyone can expect “an extravagant show” of colour, grace and talent. But the difference is there won’t be the large-scale cash prizes of a competition powwow.

“This year the committee is hosting a traditional powwow where dancers and drummers are coming simply to enjoy the spirit of sharing Aboriginal culture through song and dance,” Douglas said.

Host drum will be Eya Hey Nakoda, who hail from Alberta. It’s a drum group that’s always been very supportive of the Chilliwack powwow, said Douglas. The emcee is Gerald Sittingeagle.

Spirit of the People Powwow day passes are $2 per day and $5 for the weekend with tickets at the door. Donations are welcome and tax-deductible.

To volunteer at the powwow call Maxine Prevost at 604-798-1023 or or Julie Malloway at

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