‘Putting the Indian back into the child’ at culture camp

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The Swan River First Nation council believes in “putting the Indian back into the child,” said SRFN chief Gerald Giroux at the mini powwow during SRFN’s culture camp.

This is in response to a famous quote about the goal of Indian Residential Schools to ‘take the Indian out of the child.’

In the grand entry, at the mini powwow, Treaty 8 Urban Office representatives carried in the Every Child Matters banner. This is in memory of Indian Residential School survivors, those who didn’t come home, and their families.

Nancy Chalifoux, from Driftpile First Nation, carried in a red dress to honour the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW).

This year, this dress has journeyed to all of the First Nations around Lesser Slave Lake, said M.C. Devin Bellerose.

The two groups sang and drummed during the powwow – Young Wild and Cree and White Bear. Some Swan River band members joined Young Wild and Cree to drum for the first time at the mini powwow.

The powwow arbour at Creeland Park on Swan River First Nation is relatively new. The first powwow was at the 2019 SRFN culture camp. In 2021, the culture camp ran from Monday, August 23 to Friday, August 27.

The schedule says the camp started with teepee raising and teaching and ended with a pancake breakfast. In between, there were many events. Many were traditional skills: such as working with a deer hide, making tea and bannock, picking ratroot and a medicinal plant walk, moose calling, and teepee lamp making. There were also traditional celebrations: such as the mini powwow, tea dance/round dance, hand games, jigging, and ‘squaw wrestling’.

There were other informative sessions such as watershed information from the Lesser Slave Watershed Council. Also, fun activities: such as a ‘Cree Family Scavenger Hunt’, canoe race, fishing derby, kids crafts, ‘Hide the Chief’, welcoming new babies, air bands, and hot dog roasts. The last evening, the camp held a candle light vigil and fireworks.

Most events were led by community members or band organizations.

Swan River First Nation is about half-way between Slave Lake and High Prairie, just off Hwy. 2. The Hamlet of Kinuso is in the middle of the Swan River.

Swan River First Nation culture camp mini powwow grand entry on Aug. 24. Chief Gerald Giroux’s headdress is visible between two other councillors – Buddy Giroux (foreground) and Mark Giroux. Nancy Chalifoux carried in a red dress to honour the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW). Representatives from the Treaty 8 Urban office carried a banner to honour residential school survivors and those who didn’t come home.
Swan River First Nation Chief Gerald Giroux (in the headdress) watches Young Wild and Cree sing and drum a song at the mini powwow. Some of the drummers were drumming for the first time at the mini powwow.

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