20th annual traditional Pow Wow

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre and the Office of Indigenous Relations present their first collaboration at this year’s United College annual Pow Wow

University Relations

September 23 marks the 20th anniversary of the United College annual Pow Wow, ahead of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  

This year’s Pow Wow celebration also represents the inaugural collaboration between the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) and the Office of Indigenous Relations (OIR). 

"To witness the growth of this Pow Wow is so beautiful and to see it as evidence of the strong growth in our Indigenous campus community at Waterloo," says Jean Becker, associate vice-president of OIR. "I am in awe of the ongoing efforts of the staff from OIR and WISC who are harnessing their shared passions to create a special cultural experience for all who attend. I can’t wait to gather to dance, eat and visit."  

Gidinawendimin / Ska’nikúolát Pow Wow is a cultural celebration that highlights Indigenous cultures through song, dance, arts and traditional food. When guests arrive at the Pow Wow, they are welcomed by the sound of traditional singing, drumming and dancers in colourful regalia. It will be an exciting time to see Indigenous craft and food vendor booths and an all-around celebration of diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.  

The United College annual Pow Wow began in 2004 when Becker held the role of Aboriginal Student Counsellor at St. Paul’s University College, now known as United College. While Melissa Ireland, current director of OIR, was an undergraduate student and member of the Indigenous Student Association when she first started supporting the planning and execution of the Pow Wow. 

As the Indigenous community grew on campus, WISC was created to be a friendly and safe space at United College where Indigenous students can connect with other Indigenous students and members of the Waterloo community. WISC continues to lead the planning of the annual Pow Wow, a non-competitive Pow Wow that has been held on the grounds of United College and at Waterloo Park. 

Another significant change this year is that the Pow Wow will be held at an indoor venue, at the Columbia Icefield (CIF) Field House on Saturday, September 23, and will feature vendors, dancers and singers from the Region of Waterloo and beyond. WISC and OIR intends to have the Pow Wow to be a safe, welcoming and vibrant opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks to gather and spend time with each other in a beautiful gathering of Indigenous celebration and ceremony.  

Whether you have been to a Pow Wow before or this is your first time attending, there’s always something new to learn and it is also important to remember basic Pow Wow etiquette on how to attend and participate respectfully. 

Gordon Nicotine-Sands: Pow Wow 101 

On September 19th, the Office of Indigenous Relations will be hosting Gordon Nicotine-Sands: Pow Wow 101. The Presentation will focus on the origin of what is known as "Pow Wow" and how it came to be in North America and in the Great Lakes area. Nicotine-Sands will also talk about what you can expect when attending a Pow Wow, including drumming, singing, dancing and associated protocols.  

You can learn more about the presentation and register on the. 

All are welcome to attend the Pow Wow  

Registration is not required, but a general admission fee of five dollars or a donation of a non-perishable food item is welcome at the door. Youth under 18-years of age or seniors 60-years and above are free to attend. Post-secondary students with a valid student card also have free admission. First Nations, Inuit and Métis people will not be charged entry.  

Event details 

Date: September 23, 2023 

Time: 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM 

Doors open at 10:00 AM while grand entry and prayer ceremony begins at noon. 


University of Waterloo - CIF Field House (Indoor) 

220 Columbia St. West 

Waterloo, ON  N2L 0A1