‘All are welcome’: U of T Mississauga to host inaugural All-Nations Powwow

teepee being raised
(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 U of T 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 U of T 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 U of T services.  

The powwow is part of the campus’s ongoing commitment to meet the recommendations in Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin, the final report of U of T’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."

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