Dropping a friend off at Edmonton International Airport (EIA) I happened upon a Powwow and stuck around to enjoy the music and dancing.

The second annual Cultural Showcase Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day held at the airport was sponsored by EIA, the Tribal Chiefs Employment and Training Services Association (TCETSA), Enoch Cree Nation and the Metis Nation of Alberta and aimed to showcase traditional indigenous culture through dance, music and art. 

In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day, and the day was proclaimed in 1996 by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc. 

In his opening remarks emcee Kevin Buffalo of the Enoch Cree Nation noted that when the airport opened in 1963 a teepee was featured on the site but that since then region’s indigenous peoples haven’t had much of a role in the airport until more recent years.

photo by author

Under a cloudless and brilliant blue sky the grand entry parade included chiefs and dancers from the Enoch Cree Nation, Sunchild First Nation, Samson Cree Nation, Kehewin Cree Nation, Cold Lake First Nation, and Metis Nation carrying the First Nations, Metis, Alberta and Canadian flags.

video by author

photo by author

A number of men’s, women’s and kid’s dances were held and it was noted that the intricate costumes with their heavy bead work weighed a few pounds which must have caused a few beads of sweat on a day with a forecast high of 29 Celsius and a heat warning from Environment Canada.

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The drummers pound out a rhythm and sing to encourage the dancers while emcee Kevin Buffalo narrates.

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An arts & crafts display was set-up and tribal chiefs hoped there would be a permanent place for indigenous art and handicrafts at EIA.