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Yaqan Nukiy brings 30th annual traditional powwow to Creston Valley

The event will celebrate 30 years of resilience
Jason Louie is the elected Chief of the Lower Kootenay Band. (Photo credit Brian Lawrence)

This weekend, the 30th annual traditional Yaqan Nukiy Powwow will be celebrated during the Creston Valley Blossom Festival.

READ MORE: Creston Valley Blossom Festival celebrates 82 years

It has been three long years since the last event, said Nasukin Jason Louie.

“It is very exciting, but there is a little bit of nervousness as well because we haven’t had the powwow since the pandemic,” he said. “We know that COVID has not gone away completely, but things are definitely better.”

He recalls how lonely the first year of the pandemic was in 2020. During that time, Creston Fire Rescue drove their fire trucks through the Yaqan Nukiy community and played traditional powwow music along with an inspirational message to stay safe.

“People came out of their houses to their driveways to listen, and we reassured them that we’d be back some day,” said Louie. “And now here we are in 2023, and we’re ready to bring back the powwow. It’s going to be a celebration.”

This year, the Powwow Committee wants to mark 30 years of resilience for the Yaqan Nukiy. The first one event was held all those years ago to commemorate the opening of the Lower Kootenay Band complex.

“We remember when this was outlawed by the Government of Canada that we couldn’t practice this, but we were resilient and retained that cultural knowledge,” said Louie. “We found a way to honour what our elders directed us to do and carry on this remembrance of the opening of the gymnasium that housed us during times of celebration and in times of mourning. Many of those elders have since passed on, but their knowledge and our teachings continued to this day.”

Lower Kootenay Band Nasukin Jason Louie demonstrates a traditional dance in full regalia. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Kootenay Band Nasukin Jason Louie demonstrates a traditional dance in full regalia. (Black Press file photo)

The powwow will be held over two days on May 20 and 21 at the former band office, located at 830 Simon Road. Eya Hey Nakoda will be host drum, honour drum Nakoda Nation, emcee Ruben Little Head, and arena director Eli Snow.

The first grand entry will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, followed by another at 7 p.m. The procession of dancers will come in to showcase their traditional regalia.

“It is going to be one of the most amazing sights you’ll ever see,” said Louie. “And I just cannot describe the energy.”

At 5 p.m., there will be a break for a feast of brisket, ribs, and turkey catered by Chuck’s BBQ for $25 a plate.

On the following Sunday morning, a pancake breakfast will be served by the Powwow Committee from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for $5.

The next grand entry will be at 1 p.m. that afternoon.

“If you’ve never been to a powwow, I’d encourage you to come out,” said Louie. “It’s a very social event for everyone to come together, and there’s some people I haven’t seen for years that are going to be there. Now is the time of reuniting and reconnecting.”

He advised to come early, as parking fills up quickly and vehicles start lining up down the highway. In previous years, between 500 to 1,000 people have attended.

Attendees are welcome to bring their cameras and take pictures, for personal use only. Please do not touch the regalia.

READ MORE: New exhibit opening at Creston Museum for Blossom Festival weekend

Kelsey Yates

About the Author: Kelsey Yates

Kelsey Yates has had a lifelong passion for newspapers and storytelling. Originally from Alberta, she graduated from SAIT Polytechnic's journalism program in 2016.
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