Northern Cree prepare for their return to the Grammy Awards – Home | q | CBC Radio

Many Canadians are really not familiar with the traditional music of this nation but the members of Northern Cree have been drumming for round dances and pow wows since 1982!  According to their webpage, “the group originates from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation but is made up of members from the Treaty 6 area, most notably the Frog Lake Cree Nation, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Samson Cree Nation, Louis Bull Cree Nation, and the Poundmaker Cree Nation.”  All of the members have full-time jobs and other activities that keep them busy, like raising their families but the group is frequently present at round dances in the winter, pow wows in the summer, and award shows when they are nominated.  Tonight, they will be opening for the Grammy Awards, after being nominated for an award for the 7th time!  Take some time to listen to some of their contemporary and traditional music, as well as the CBC interview with Steve Wood (very slow and clear English).

Northern Cree’s Steve Wood discusses his group’s Grammy nomination and their upcoming performance at the ceremony’s pre-show.

Source: Northern Cree prepare for their return to the Grammy Awards – Home | q | CBC Radio

Perseids Meteor Shower and Pow Wow camping weekend

Camping at Coal Lake in June, we saw that there was an excellent view of the dark night sky from our campsite.  When I realized that the annual Perseids Meteor showers were going to brightest and most active on a weekend, this was a good place to return.  As well, I saw that Samson Cree Nation was holding their pow wow on the same weekend, only about 20 minutes south of the campground.  On the way through Wetaskiwin, we could see many people camping for a rock concert in town, camped only inches apart.  At the municipal campground, only a dozen or so camping units spent the weekend, and our evenings were very peaceful.  The firewood was very dry and seasoned, and it burned extremely well, as we watched the night sky.  At first, nothing moved. Then, we gradually started to see movement, often slow, and occasionally extremely fast and bright, as the meteors crossed the sky.  Friday night was clear, so we had very good visibility.

On Saturday morning, we went out for a hike after finishing breakfast. We searched for the Waskahegan Trail, but I realized after we were done that the trail is on the West side of the lake, not the east.  Since we didn’t find a trail, we got out for about 8K on the country roads. After returning to the campground, some of us took naps, most of us read, and we tried out my “slackline”, a low and easy trapeze.  Some people got pretty good at using it.  I only managed a little bit, with a person on either side to hold onto!  Some of the group went to investigate Bittern Lake, a wildlife area.  They discovered that the grass was very long, the lake was very low, and there were many ATV users there, going fast.

In the evening, most of us went to Maskwacis, to enjoy the Samson Cree Nation pow wow. This was a really beautiful event.  the vendors had a great selection, and the food was top-notch.  It was fascinating to watch the hand games, a complicated version of the “shell game” at carnivals.  Each team had drummers and singers, so there was a LOT of great energy in the building where the games were happening.  Grand entry and the intertribal competition were both spectacular.  It would have been nice to stay late, but I was worried about night driving where there are a lot of deer and moose, so we got back to the campsite about 11. There was some heavy rain on our way back and the night was cloudy, so not much good for watching the meteors.

Sunday, most people wanted to get back home pretty early, but a couple of us went over to Camrose to take a look around.  The town is very well-maintained and the area around Mirror Lake is especially lovely. We visited Norsemen Brewery, located in the large Norsemen Inn.  It doesn’t really have the “vibe” of a micro-brewery, being a very large pub, but their 3 beers were all tasty. After that, it was less than an hour to drive back to downtown Edmonton.

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

Coming soon: Round Dance, Books2Buy, Ice Castles, etc.

20160130 University of Alberta Round Dance

I have posted information about round dances previously, and I really recommend that you visit at least one, if you never have.  There are always a lot of ceremonies prior to the actual dancing: the pipe ceremony, the feast, and a lot of prayers.  The dancing and singing is likely to begin around 7, or later.  This is a very convenient location, easy to reach on foot, by bicycle, bus, or LRT.  There is also a lot of parking at and near the university, but it’s not cheap, and you have to pay any time of day.

University of Alberta Round Dance 2016

The very best deal in town for people who love books is the Books2Buy sale that the Edmonton Library holds several times a year.  Collect books, CDs, and DVDs for only $1-2 each.  Go early for the best selection, and go on Sunday to fill a big box with materials for only $10!


  • Friday, February 19: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 20: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, February, 21: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m


  • Stanley A. Milner Library

2016 February EPL Books2Buy

I may have already mentioned this, but there are many events during the Edmonton winter, and one that’s really unique is the amazing Ice Castle that has been built in Hawrelak Park.  Everything is created from ice, and you can explore inside the castle, enjoying the beautiful lights, inside and outside.

Edmonton Ice Castle


Enjoy your winter.  It’s more difficult than summer, but it’s really interesting and exciting in a different way!

Another fun summer weekend! Things to do in and near Edmonton

Every weekend in the summer, there are many events, activities and festivals, in and around Edmonton.  These are just a few of them.

We’re going to take the Edmonton Streetcar tomorrow to visit the Whyte Avenue area (Old Strathcona).  The streetcar is very interesting and a very convenient and inexpensive way to travel between Old Strathcona and downtown.

Edmonton Streetcar: 100-year-old streetcars have been restored and are operated by volunteers to travel between downtown and Old Strathcona.  $5/return.

Edmonton Streetcar: 100-year-old streetcars have been restored and are operated by volunteers to travel between downtown and Old Strathcona. $5/return.

We’re going to visit the Edmonton Sand Sculpture Exhibition, near Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard.  Sand sculptures are very popular in beach locations.  They’re not very common, here in urban Alberta!

The Sand on Whyte is part of a popular, long-running art festival, Edmonton Art Walk, which has operated near Whyte Avenue for many years.

Edmonton Street Performers’ Festival is continuing in Churchill Square, if you want to see acrobats, comedians, or jugglers performing.

For a very unique activity, there are also 2 pow wows being held near Edmonton this weekend:

Enoch Cree Nation is very close to West Edmonton Mall.  Take Whitemud Drive outside the city to Highway 60, and then travel south past the townsite (less than 5 kilometres).  The pow wow arbour is on the east (left) side of the highway, travelling south.

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is located north of Lac Ste. Anne, near Glenevis, AB.  It would be about a 1-hour drive to visit from Edmonton.



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

Spectacular Sunday: Art- Consumption and Production

Artwork in Government House

Artwork in Government House

Summer weekends are usually a time for me to get outside the city to be active.  However, I needed to be in town this weekend, and I found some very interesting activities.  In the morning, I enjoyed a 5K race, organized by MEC , followed by brunch at The Sugar Bowl where they have the most delicious cinnamon buns and an excellent beer selection (not before noon, thanks!).  Because my friend and I had some “time to kill” before our afternoon activity, we decided to visit the Royal Alberta Museum.  When we arrived at the parking lot, we were surprised to see an unfamiliar sign: Government House was open for tours (only on Sundays, 11-4).  Normally, Government House has only been open to the public on New Year’s Day (January 1) for the Lieutenant Governor’s levee, an annual reception.  I’ve always been interested in attending but never have.  The building is over 100 years old and was used as a residence by the province’s 6 first lieutenant governors (the province’s representatives of the Queen).  It was vacant and used for other purposes between 1938 and 1975 when it was restored to be used for private government meetings, as well as to host foreign dignitaries.  I was very interested in seeing what the inside of the building looked like, but I was very pleased and surprised to see how much art the building contained.  By the way, tours are FREE!

There were several works of art by a couple of my very favourite artists, Alex Janvier, of Cold Lake First Nation, and William Kurelek, born in Alberta, of Ukrainian heritage.  Both artists have very distinctive work, which I recognize immediately. I don’t think that our tour guide expected to be spending so long taking us around the building, but my friend and I, and 2 other people who joined us, spent a great deal of time looking at many of the different works of art in the building.

As well as the amazing artwork, the architecture and design of Government House is quite interesting.  The lower 2 levels have been restored to their turn-of the century design and style, with some of the original furniture having been recovered.  The top floor is very different, but equally interesting since it’s very representative of the style in the 1970s when it was restored.  The meeting room is huge and comfortably appointed so that the government in power (NDP now) can have private meetings every Wednesday.

We stopped to check out the giftshop and cafe in the museum.  Almost everything in the giftshop is 15% off right now, and the cafe also has good prices and selection.

After this visit, we continued on to our original destination, Calder Library in the Northwest section of Edmonton.  June 21 is National Aboriginal Day and the Edmonton Public Library is celebrating with special events all month.  I saw that another of my favourite artists, Aaron Paquette  was giving an art class (FREE) at a time when I could attend. This was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.  Aaron’s artwork is on display in the Grandin/Government Centre LRT Station.

Aaron showed us a lot of tips and tricks, and I really like the walnut ink and Grey’s Paper that he showed us how to use.  We got very interesting effects from using both, and neither of these art materials is very costly.  The paper is especially low-cost, and I preferred it to the heavy watercolour paper that we used for later work.  He is a very nice, and enthusiastic man, with a very good personality for teaching.  His twin, 15-year-old sons also joined the class and did excellent paintings.


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

National Geographic recommends…  That you visit Edmonton this summer!

Visit Edmonton!

When people arrive in Edmonton from another part of the world, they often complain that the city is boring and cold.  During the winter, it is dark for a long time, and the weather is cold.  You often won’t see people out on the streets during the winter months.  However, from  the May long weekend (third Monday in May, just finished), until Labour Day (first Monday in September), there are so many choices of activities that you can’t possibly enjoy them all!!

Visit the River Valley, where you can walk, run, ride a bicycle, or just drive your car to a park for a picnic, a Barbecue, or just to relax.  Our ribbon of green runs the full length of the city, so you can spend your full day there, if you want.

Go to our leisure centres, indoor and outdoor sports facilities throughout the city.  I’ve never visited another city with so many swimming pools!  Play basketball, kick a soccer ball, play tennis, or walk on a track.  You can keep healthy and have fun.  There are competitions in all kinds of sports, including triathlon, dragon boat, slowpitch baseball, street basketball, ultimate frisbee, you name it.  There’s no good reason to stay inside your house or apartment during the summer!


FESTIVALS!  Edmonton is known as festival city, and it’s hard to believe how many kinds of festivals we have here! The Sikh Parade was on the weekend, the Children’s Festival is coming up, and Edmonton’s Fringe Festival in August was the first, and is the largest theatre festival in North America.

Cultural exchange: Do you want to eat injera (Ethipian), practice Capoeira (Brazilian), learn to play Chinese chess, watch a pow wow (Indigenous Canadian dance competition), pray in a Buddhist temple, enjoy fresh perogies from Ukraine, or pasta from Italy?  Do you want to learn a new language or skill?  You can do all of these things on the same weekend, without travelling too far from the city centre.  People from every corner of the world have made Edmonton home, and now, they are happy to share their traditions and culture here.  The Edmonton Heritage Festival is a very popular time to see, taste, and hear many different cultures.  Personally, I avoid the crowds on that weekend, and visit many small businesses and activities all through the year.

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

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.