Powerful display of aboriginal culture at Chilliwack powwow

Grand entry is at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 8, and Spirit of the People powwow runs until Sunday at 5 p.m. at Tzeachten field

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger are two of the organizer for the Spirit of the People Powwow which takes place at Tzeachten Sports Field. The event runs Aug. 8 to 10.

Spirit of the People Pow Wow is being resurrected in Chilliwack this weekend with brilliant colours flying at the Tzeachten Sports Field.

The goal is to bring the crowds back into the fold, says Gary Abbott, arena director.

Once organizers got a good look at the grassy fields on Bailey Road, they knew it would be an ideal location for a traditional pow wow.

“The grounds at Tzeachten fields are very beautiful and they’re perfect for the dancers. They’ll absorb the shock well.”

Next summer the event will grow into a full contest pow wow.

“The goal this year really is to bring people back to the pow wow,” Abbott says. “We’re hoping to have about 3,000 people over the weekend.”

Grand entry is at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 8, and features all the dancers in a brilliant display of colour and pride, and runs until Sunday at 5 p.m.

Organizers hope the new outdoor spot works out in the long-term.

“By solidifying this location as a permanent site for the Pow Wow, it enables us to strengthen past and current relationships, while building on new partnerships based on trust, shared cultural identity and a sense of community,” says Louis De Jaeger, corporate liaison Spirit of the People Cultural Society.

The plan for this weekend is to feature a number of “specials,” which are prizes for the various pow wow dance categories like the Maxine Prevost Buckskin Memorial, for example, as well as men’s grass or men’s chicken dance categories, and many more.

There’s tent camping at the site, and different performances like the Golden Ears Métis Dance Group during the break from the competitions between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. A salmon BBQ, Indian tacos, and Chilliwack corn will be available.

While Abbott himself is a Men’s Fancy Dancer, but at this event he’ll be concentrating on keeping things flowing as arena director for the pow wow.

He directs traffic from the floor as arena director.

“I have to keep it all moving. I learned how to do that from my dad (former Lt. Gov. Steven Point).”

That’s part of the long-standing successful history of the Chilliwack Pow Wow, first organized by his brother, and later by Point family members and a host of volunteers, Abbott said. It became the Spirit of the People when it was run by the late Maxine Prevost.

Organizers picked this weekend specifically for the event, since there weren’t any other pow wows that they knew of scheduled in B.C. or Washington State.

“This weekend there is also the Abbotsford Air Show and the Chilliwack Fair set to go ahead, but I think we will still get a good crowd.”

Host Drum Eya Hey Nakoda is from Morley Alberta and MCs are Gerald SittingEagle and Nelson Leon.

Admission is $2 per day or $5 per weekend

Spirit of the People Pow Wow, Aug. 8, 9, 10 at Tzeachten Sports Field on 46770 Bailey Road.

Grand entry Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

Event is D/A free. Questions or more information email garyvabbott@live.com or call 604 845-5234.