The rhythm of a drum circle rang through the St. Clair College Sportsplex Thursday during a community PowWow that drew more than 1,000 people to celebrate ¬the achievements and successes of Indigenous students.
“We’re just promoting Indigenous awareness, providing students the opportunity, who might not have the opportunity to participate in a PowWow,” said Muriel Sampson, the Indigenous Learner Advisor in the college’s Indigenous Student Centre.
“Especially for this area, we’re not close to a local First Nation, so this is another opportunity for those students to be immersed in their own culture and become more aware of who they are,” Sampson said.
The 4th annual PowWow, which featured drumming and dancing, was organized by the Greater Essex County District School Board for students from all local schools, as well as the larger community.
Sampson said there are about 275 First Nations, Metis, Inuit (FNMI) students on campus and many of them come from families who have lost their culture. “So we’re in a time where it’s promoting who they are, instilling that confidence, that esteem, back into who they are, building up their identity.”
She said there was a time when FNMI students hid their identity because “it was something that was not encouraged because of things that happened in our past.”
“But now, at we’re at a time with Truth and Reconciliation, so we’re bringing that awareness forward again and we’re helping to celebrate and promote that identity for the students and their families.”