Thursday night in the big city (Edmonton)

Early in September, I started teaching an evening LINC class, 3 nights/week.  LINC stands for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada.  The students in this program are immigrants to Canada. The classes are quite interesting because they students choose the topics that they really want and need to study, and the teacher chooses material that will help them understand that subject better.  Students taking LINC4 often have a goal of becoming a Canadian citizen, since that’s the required proficiency level.  So, we’re working on a lot of information about Canada and the government (3 levels).  I’m really fond of taking field trips since they offer so many chances to practice vocabulary, grammar, and phrases that students have learned in class.  I’m also really fond of the Alberta Gallery of Art (AGA) as a beautiful and interesting place to visit.  On the last Thursday evening of every month, admission to the art gallery is free.  So, we started to plan a trip to the art gallery.

The art gallery is located downtown and our class is located in Northeast Edmonton, so we planned to meet at the Art Gallery, instead of the school.  We spent time looking at information and watching videos about how to take the LRT (train) to Churchill Square, as well as how to park using the EPark machines downtown.  It’s not that easy to figure out, so we spent a couple of classes making instructions for meeting at Churchill Square.  Luckily, it worked and almost everyone from the class joined us in the lobby of the art gallery.  We found out that night that “event parking” prices were in effect, as they will be every time there’s an event at Edmonton’s new downtown arena.  Unfortunately, that information wasn’t available on the City of Edmonton website.  My parking at City Hall cost $14!!  That’s a bad surprise.

However, everyone made it, and nobody got a parking ticket or a $250 ticket for taking the LRT without a validated ticket!  We explored the art gallery for over an hour, and there were many interesting things to see there.  On the main floor, the touch gallery was a really interesting image of life under the sea.  Everything was made with ordinary household objects and it was okay to touch everything (gently)!  On the top floor, there is always an exhibit of modern art, and this father and son exhibit was extremely colourful and interesting.  We had fun looking for gnomes, which were included in many of the paintings and sculptures.

On the second level, there was a small, modern exhibit which was just really “interesting”!  There’s not really any other way to explain it.  Next door, the large gallery was really amazing!  the walls were painted with deep, jewel colours.  The paintings were all from the Victorian era: later 1800s and early 1900s.  There were many gorgeous pictures to see in this area.

After the art gallery, it was time for a break, and some students picked up food at one of the food trucks.  We met again in the Stanley Milner Library, on the other side of Churchill Square.  There is a lot to see in the library, but many of the books are beginning to be moved to a temporary location at Enterprise Square (above Bay Station on the LRT).  We spent time exploring the children’s library, where the librarian was SO friendly and helpful!  She shared a checkers set and students took turns challenging each other.  She helped another student learn how to borrow and return a book.

After the library, we went back across Churchill Square, where there was a rap and hiphop concert taking place.  We enjoyed practicing our dance moves, while the DJ spun a few records.  The square also has a ping pong (table tennis) table, a giant chess set, and a basketball hoop that visitors can use.  The pools at City Hall are closed for swimming and wading now, but soon, they’ll be used for outdoor skating.

Finally, we took a quick look around City Hall, which is still open to the public in the evenings.  It’s a beautiful building, with lots of public art.  We stopped by to say “Hi!” to Mayor Don Iveson, but his office was locked for the day.  Time for a few photos and then it was time to return to our homes, by train or by car.  It was a fun adventure!

Enoch Pow Wow

Last weekend, there were 2 pow wows, which were both held fairly close to Edmonton: Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation (near Lac Ste. Anne), and Enoch Cree Nation, near the end of Whitemud Drive, in west Edmonton.  My grandson and I attended Grand Entry at Enoch, on Saturday night.  I first attended Enoch pow wow about 15 years ago, when it was held mid-week, and the old arbour held only a few people.  What a change now!  There were a few hundred camping units on the site (next to highway 60), and a long lineup for security to check entering cars for drugs, alcohol, and weapons.  On the grounds, there were many vendors with food and clothing for sale.  We were able to put our blanket down to save a seat in the arbour, but it was very full, in advance of Grand Entry.

It’s hard to describe how powerful it is, when all of the 1-20 drumming groups are playing and singing, and hundreds of dancers and dignitaries fill the ring.  There are many different styles of dancing, and the regalia is so amazingly colourful!  Take a look and see for yourself.  I only use my cellphone to take pictures, so you can get much more amazing photographs if you have a good camera. There will be several more pow wows coming this summer, and several of them will be within 1 hour of Edmonton.  It’s well worth your time to visit one.

Why every Canadian should attend a pow wow



Pow Wow Season 2016

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Every summer, there are colourful, amazing festivals that take place at First Nations all around the province.  Dancers and drummer practice all through the winter season, and family members help to make the dancer’s regalia by hand.  I have posted … Continue reading

Exciting time, summer in the city!

National Aboriginal Days Poster
As the summer continues, there are more and more festivals and speciall events around the city.  One of my favourite festivals has just started: The Works Art & Design Festival All around the downtown area, there are art exhibits until July 1.  There are beer gardens, food and art vendors, and live entertainment every day in Churchill Square: Street Stage, Churchill Square  Take some time to enjoy some visual arts, as well as some music!

National Aboriginal Day (June 21) is being celbrated all month.  Special celebrations Aboriginal Day Live, in Edmonton will occur Saturday, June 20, at Louise McKinney Park, with other celebrations happening Saturday, in Churchill Square. Edmonton Aboriginal Days celebration

Pow Wow Season

Many American pow wows on this calendarPow Wow season has begun, although most of the pow wows that have already happened are indoors. Soon, the full-meal-deal will begin, 3 days of grand entry, competition, and drumming. Many lifelong Canadians don’t even realize that there are pow wows all over the continent through the summer season. These events provide a wonderful opportunity to see amazing colours, and talented dancers, enjoy fantastic drumming and singing, and taste some treats like “bannock burgers”. Many First Nations around the country host these events, but information about locations and dates can be hard to find. Here is some information about the coming season.

June 6, 2015

Alexander Powwow
Kipohtakaw Education Centre
School Gymnasium
Alexander First Nation, Alberta
Phone: 780-939-3868

June 13 – 14, 2015

20th Annual Aboriginal Gathering and 12th Annual Powwow
Peace River Agricultural Grounds (East of Peace River)
Peace River, Alberta
Contact: Dennis Whitford
Phone: 780-624-6367


June 20, 2015

APTN Aboriginal Day Live & Celebration
Louise McKinney Park
Edmonton, Alberta
12:00 – 10:30 pm
LIVE concert begins at 6:30 pm

Phone: 204-947-9331 ext. 358

June 26 – 28, 2015

Iyinowak Annual Powwow
Saddle Lake Cree Territory, Alberta
Phone: 780-726-3829

June 30 – July 2, 2015

Beaver Lake Cree Nation Annual Competition Powwow
Honoring Iskwewak
18 km SE of Lac La Biche
Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Alberta
Contact: Gerald Whitford
Phone: 780-623-2553

July 3 – 5, 2015

O’Chiese First Nation Competition Powwow
Celebrating Our Cultural Heritage
O’Chiese First Nation
Rocky Mountain House, Alberta

Contact: Doreen Gladeau
Phone: 1-888-256-3884 /


July 3 – 5, 2015

Ermineskin Cree Nation Powwow
Maskwacis Park
Maskwacis, Alberta

Contact: Iris Albert / Phone: 780-585-3065
Contact: Nina Makinaw / Phone: 780-352-1321

July 10 – 12, 2015

Enoch Cree Nation Powwow
Enoch Cree Nation, Alberta
Phone: 780-470-0359



July 10 – 12, 2015

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Annual Powwow
Nakota Sioux Nation, Alberta
Contact: Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Administration Office
Phone: 780-967-2225


July 17 – 19, 2015

Kainai Powwow & Celebration
Red Crow
Standoff, Alberta

Phone: 587-220-0046

July 31 – August 2, 2015

53rd Annual Lac La Biche Powwow Days & Fish Derby
Lac La Biche Recreation Grounds
Lac La
Biche, Alberta
Contact: Colleen (780-623-2477)


July 31 – August 2, 2015

Kamloopa Powwow
Secwepemc Powwow Grounds
Kamloops, British Columbia
Contact: Kamloopa Powwow Society

Phone: 250-828-9782

Pow Wow Season begins!

During the summer months, there are many pow wow dance competitions at First Nations all over the continent.  If you look at the map on this page:

you can see that there are almost 50 First Nations (reserves) in Alberta alone.  Not all of them have pow wows, but many do.  The most colourful times are during Grand Entry, which is generally held twice a day.  Drum groups and dancers travel long distances to compete, and it’s a great time to socialize.  Generally there’s no cost to attend, and drugs and alcohol are strictly forbidden.  There are also opportunities to purchase yummy food, and a variety of crafts and souvenirs

Regina indoor pow wow


WOW!!!!! Most amazing video yet, by OK Go, filmed by drone

I’ve been really impressed with the music videos that OK Go makes, since their early video on the treadmills.  They have an amazing sense of timing and visual imagery.  This video is like nothing that you’ve ever seen.  It appears to have been filmed in Japan, but I’m not too sure.  Probably somebody who watches will recognize the environment a bit better than me.  Please leave a comment, with your reaction to the video!

Round Dance season begins again

Some information that I previously shared about round dances is below.  If you want to participate in a very unique Canadian cultural activity, there are many round dances that are held during the winter season.  Some are fairly private dances, held to honour the anniversary of a loved one’s death, and many are held by community organizations, and they are open to the public.

A round dance is very different from a pow wow, although the drumming and singing may sound similar.  Many communities and families host round dances during the winter season. Most of the people who attend will participate in the dancing, which is usually in a circle, around the drummers.  Often, the dancing doesn’t start until pretty late in the evening, and people will stay well into the night.  There is no cost to attend, and alcohol and drug use is always prohibited.

This article gives more information about the reasons for a round dance:

This website also has a few photos and videos to give you a better idea.

Pow Wow Etiquette: 10 Rules to Follow in and Out of the Arena –


I’ve posted information about many of the pow wows around Alberta.  For many non-natives (as well as for many people with indigenous heritage), attending a pow wow is new and unfamiliar, and you may feel nervous about what to do.  As long as you are respectful, and recognize that you are a visitor, things should go well.  Here is some more specific information.  This was written in the US, so some of the customs they’re referring to may be different here in Alberta.  If you have the chance to attend a pow wow, I strongly recommend it!

Pow Wow Etiquette: 10 Rules to Follow in and Out of the Arena –

Pow Wow Season 2014

Summer time is pow wow season for First Nations throughout Alberta.  The pow wow is a mixture of traditional dances and ceremonies, and a competition.  All of the dancers and drummers are competing to be the best in their category.  The pow wow is very colourful and interesting, there is rarely any cost, and everyone is welcome to attend.  They are generally held on a First Nation, and information on the location and the time can be difficult to find, outside of the aboriginal community.  There is usually a “grand entry” in the afternoon, and again in the evening, when all of the dancers, as well as all of the dignitaries from the community enter the pow wow grounds.  It’s a really colourful and exciting event.  There are usually many vendors, selling food, drink, and crafts.  It’s a good idea to bring a lawn chair, a blanket, and rain wear, because the events are usually held outside.  There is generally free camping available, but there are limited services available (like showers!).

INVITING ALL Dancers and Singers !!!!
For More information contact Peter Auger (780) 805-9521


A fun airline safety video

Virgin Airlines noticed that most passengers ignored the safety demonstrations, although the instructions are very important.  They made this very entertaining video, to help passengers to pay attention.

If you watch it, you can learn a lot of the important vocabulary for air travel.

Happy New Year: Year of the Horse!

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Drummers for Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Drummers for Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

Lion and Dragon Dances in Chinatown

In many Asian countries, there are big celebrations going on for the lunar new year (Tet, in Viet Nam).  It’s the main time off that most people get each year, and many of the purchases and gifts also last throughout the year, including the “lucky money” (hong bao, or li shi).  It’s a very noisy celebration, with firecrackers and drumming scaring away the evil spirits as the year changes.  I enjoyed going for dim sum in Edmonton’s Chinatown, where many dancers were visiting all of the businesses, accompanied by drummers, and firecrackers were set off outside the businesses many times.

The link is a great infographic about the lunar new year.

50 Unbelievable Facts About Chinese New Year – Giraffe Childcare.