’All are welcome’: University of Toronto Mississauga to host inaugural All-Nations Powwow

(photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)
(photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)
The University of Toronto Mississauga will hold its first All-Nations Powwow  on March 25. The event is co-hosted by U of T Mississauga’s Indigenous Centre and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN). 

"This powwow is such an exciting opportunity to celebrate the beauty, joy, and vitality of Indigenous cultures," said  Alexandra   Gillespie , vice-president and principal of University of Toronto Mississauga. "It also marks another step in realizing University of Toronto Mississauga’s central commitment to reciprocity, as we work to build true friendships with Indigenous nations and answer the Calls to Action for Truth and Reconciliation.

"Sincere thanks to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation for the privilege of co-hosting this event with them."

"We want to say chi miigwech for taking time out of your life to attend the event, learning about Mississaugas of the Credit/Mississauga Nation history, language and culture - and for University of Toronto Mississauga making space for us to be here on our territory to celebrate through a powwow," said Veronica King-Jamieson, a MCFN councillor. "This provides an opportunity to build on relationships within our communities across Ontario." 

Doors will open at 11 a.m. and events will run from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the  Recreation, Athletic & Wellness Centre.

The schedule features a full day of traditional singing and dancing, including a grand entry ceremony at noon as well as intertribal, spot and exhibition dances. 

At 2 p.m., dancers will compete in the Tia Lyn Copenace Jingle Dress Dance Special. Jingle dresses - also known as prayer dresses - are believed to bring healing through the shape and sound of their jingles.

When University of Toronto Mississauga’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives  (OII-UTM) first opened last year, director Tee Duke  cited  hosting a powwow  - an idea that Duke and her team had considered since 2020 but had to put on hold during pandemic restrictions - to be a priority.  

"A powwow is a huge social gathering, so it was important to wait to ensure we could all be together again - in person and safely," Duke said. 

In addition to performances, the powwow will include tables featuring Indigenous-owned businesses, with products ranging from apparel and artwork to jewelry and food. There will also be booths on site sharing information about Indigenous community groups and University of Toronto services.  

The powwow is part of the campus’s ongoing commitment to meet the recommendations in  Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin , the final report of University of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee.

Pre-registration  is highly recommended, but not required. For more information, visit the  All-Nations Powwow site , which features details on powwow protocols and etiquette.

Attendees wishing to join in during the intertribal dance are invited to  learn basic steps  from Deanne Hupfield, the powwow’s head adult dancer. 

Although the powwow is a celebration of Indigenous community, history, ceremony and culture, the event is open to the wider community, Duke noted.

"All are welcome to attend," she said. "Powwows are for everyone to take in opportunities to build friendship with one another."

Statement of Land Acknowledgement We wish to acknowledge this land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.  Read about University of Toronto’s Statement of Land Acknowledgement.