On February 17th, 2018, the Together We Can Addiction Treatment & Education Society and the TWC All My Relations program hosted a winter celebration mini pow wow at Guildford Park Secondary in Surrey, BC, on historic Kwantlen territory and Tsleil-Waututh lands, where tradition, culture, and family were the theme of the day.
Co-sponsored by both the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association and the First Nations Health Authority, the pow wow brought families, dancers, drummers, and elders from many different nations within British Columbia, spanning generations and ages from 6 years old to 70 years old.
According to All My Relations Clinical Coordinator Mike Merrick, the impact on not just the community, but also the All My Relations clients was tangible and palpable.
“For the guys to be part of that ceremony and learn the teachings behind it was a real honor,” said Merrick. “All the guys in our program that helped out had a real sense of accomplishment and a feeling of being a part of something special.”
One of the most educational and meaningful moments of the event came when the entire pow wow was brought to a halt in order for a special ceremony to take place
According to Mike Merrick “During one of the traditional dances a feather fell off of one of the dancers regalia,” he remembers. “When this happens at a pow wow it represents a fallen warrior. What follows is a special protocol, starting with the pow wow abruptly stopping and the MC asking asking for the crowd to be silent. The MC then informs the crowd about what has happened and asks if there are any veterans in attendance.”
What happens after this point is something that still resonates with Mike Merrick.
“Because there was a veteran in the crowd that day,” continues Merrick “he was asked to do a prayer for that feather which then comes to represent a fallen warrior once the prayer has been completed. Traditional dancers circle the feather and lay tobacco on it while a special dance is performed that honors all four directions. Once this is completed, the feather is then given to the veteran so the warrior it represents can carry on in a good way.”
For more information about the TWC All My Relations Program and their First Nations addiction treatment program, click here.
Photo credit: Gail Stephan