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RETSD welcoming community to powwow

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River East Transcona School Division is getting set to powwow in Transcona.

The powwow will be the RETSD’s largest annual event for 2013, and will be held April 18 at Bernie Wolfe School, located at 95 Bournais Dr. The division last held a powwow in 2010 at Chief Peguis Junior High School.

Events kick off at 4 p.m. with a pipe ceremony performed by Elder Jules Lavallee and will run until approximately 8 p.m.

Organizer Corey Kapilik, RETSD’s inclusion specialist in its Aboriginal Academic Achievement (AAA) department, said the department has put months into making the evening a success.

"I would liken it to planning 12 weddings at once," he said. "We think we’re quite well-prepared, and we think it’s going to be a wonderful evening."

Kapilik is expecting five to seven drum groups to attend, while there will be a lead drum group to head up the proceedings. He also anticipates approximately 200 dancers to attend, but said the number of participants is an approximation based off of the 2010 numbers since participants don’t pre-register.

Members of the public are invited to attend the event, which will also include a feast of bannock, stew, and wild blueberry pie.

After attendees have had their fill, dancers and drummers will take part in the grand entry at 5:45 p.m.

"It’ll take place for a couple of hours with different drum groups and different dancers," he said.

Some of the dancers will be students from within the division, but the bulk of them will be from the community at large. However, Kapilik said the work of RETSD students will be highlighted throughout the evening in other ways.

"We’ve had students involved in part of the preparation and planning. We have student volunteers who will take part in greeting and various tasks throughout the powwow," he said, estimating 30-40 students will be helping with the proceedings. "As well, we’re going to have a student Aboriginal art display."

Kapilik said the division finds it important to have events like the powwow in order to celebrate the good work of the previous year.

"We want to celebrate Aboriginal culture, always, and that’s what we do in AAA. We want to celebrate the community, so that’s why we make it an open event as opposed to something just for our students and their parents," he said. "We want to honour some people who have done work with the division throughout the year, and we wanted to honour the students and the great work they’ve done in AAA this year and every year."

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