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'A great opportunity for many nations to come together' (10 photos)

Hundreds of people took in the sights and sounds of traditional First Nations culture during the 27th annual Barrie Native Friendship Centre (BNFC) Traditional Pow Wow at Springwater Park in Midhurst

The 27th annual Barrie Native Friendship Centre (BNFC) Traditional Pow Wow took place at Springwater Park in Midhurst Saturday.

Hundreds of people took in the sights and sounds of traditional First Nations culture.

The event has become a staple on the Ontario Pow Wow calendar. With many throughout the year, the Springwater two-day RendezVous is a celebration of not just the local Ojibway nation, but a great opportunity for many nations to come together.

BNFC Executive Director Gary Sutherland has been a part of the event since its beginning and loves what it does not only for his host nation (Ojibway), but for all that descend upon the area.

“This is a great celebration of our culture and history,” said Sutherland. “Pow Wows allow us the chance to see old friends and explore different ideas. Historically, it also is a way for potential spouses to meet.”

Sutherland was impressed with the many people who came to support the first day of the event.

While there are many nations in the Simcoe County area and a long storied history, not many outside the First Nations frequent the festivities.

Sutherland hopes that will change with this weekend and more local dignitaries will become proactive in getting the word out.

“We don’t get a lot of non-Nations out to the Pow Wow but really want to share in the many fun and educational things that happen on the days,” said the 50-year-old Sutherland. “I will say that I am impressed with Mayor Jeff Lehman’s contact with us. The Mayor is working hard to help us and his support means alot to all of us.”

Those who did pay the very reasonable $5 park entry fee for the festival were treated to many things that they may have never seen before.

The most-watched parts of the weekend were the many dances. Men’s Traditional, Hoop, Fancy Shawl and Fancy Feather dances were some of the highlights for visitors of all backgrounds. Sutherland is confident that the Sunrise Dance is the one of the most beautiful and spiritual, but admits it's a bit early.

“I’ve only been to handful in my lifetime as yeah, they can be a tad tiring,” said Sutherland. “But it's a very deep and moving ceremony. With the sun just coming up and the beautiful dance to help showcase that, it's very touching the first time you see it.”

The regalia worn by the many involved with showcasing Canada’s First Nations is colourful and eye-catching to say the least.

Justin Reid brought his son Noah to the park simply by accident and noticed the crowd. While it was their first time being at a Pow Wow, it won’t be their last.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Justin. “It was so amazing to see the wide variety of coloured clothing, the many foods and music. I’ve already marked it down to remember for next year. My little guy just stared at the dancing and didn’t want to leave. I have no First Nations in my family but feel this something we need to pay more attention to.”