Tag Archive for: Culture

Is Everyone Welcome at a Pow Wow?

Is Everyone Welcome at a Pow Wow?

Have you ever wondered what a pow wow really is?  I have. Perhaps you’ve watched the documentary in the Abitibi 360 virtual series about this and have an idea about the experience. The video actually whet my appetite and I wanted to know more. I wondered about joining in on their next pow wow, but had a question: Would I be welcome?

This is the very question I intend to answer in this blog. To make sure that my information was reliable and accurate, I did some research. I connected with one of the organizers of the Lac Simon Pow Wow, Pamela Papatie, to get some guidance.

What is a Pow Wow?

A pow wow is a traditional spiritual celebration with music, dancing, food and Indigenous crafts. Contrary to popular belief, a pow wow is not a party. No drugs or alcohol are allowed on site during the celebrations. A pow wow is a traditional gathering for the purpose of cultural exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.  It’s actually a tradition that comes from western Canada, adopted by Indigenous communities here in order to reconnect with their culture. For many years, it was forbidden for First Nations to practise and teach their ways to future generations.

There are two types of pow wow. There’s a competition pow wow, where dancers and singers compete for prize money and there’s a traditional pow wow, which has a more spiritual orientation. Both types of pow wow honour traditions and rituals.

The Lac Simon Pow Wow, featured here in the fourth episode of Abitibi 360’s virtual journeys is a traditional gathering.  Organizer Pamela Papatie tells us that it usually takes place on the third weekend of July. It starts at noon, when the sun is at its highest point, and ends at sundown. However, sometimes it runs a bit later into the night so that people can dance and celebrate. On Saturday night, there are also little friendly competitions for singing and drumming. A traditional feast with wild game is also shared as part of the celebration. There is absolutely no charge for admission to the pow wow.

Un Pow-Wow c'est quoi de la série des Voyages virtuels Abitibi 360

Photo | Christian Leduc

Are Non-Aboriginals Welcome at a Pow Wow?

It can feel a little overwhelming for someone attending their first pow wow. However, although it’s a traditional Aboriginal celebration, all are welcome. Pow wows are open to the public.  They serve not only to reclaim and preserve Indigenous culture; they also help to foster the pride Aboriginal people have in being part of our First Nations. It’s a beautiful way for them to share this pride and to introduce the richness of their traditions to the world.

How to Fit In and Show Respect?

Although everyone is welcome, there are a number of basic protocols you need to know and respect. Online, you’ll find a variety of pieces written for those who are new to pow wows , a world that the general public knows little about. Have a look around the Internet for this kind of information, bearing in mind that protocols vary from region to region. Meanwhile, here are a few tips from Pamela Papatie.

First off, pay special attention to the emcee. At every pow wow, there is someone who announces what’s going to be happening next, letting participants know what to do and what not to do. Pay attention.

There are specific times when photos are forbidden. Particularly, during certain songs and dances that are sacred prayers for the Indigenous community holding the pow wow. The emcee will let people know this. Be respectful.

The traditional clothing worn by the dancers is called ‘regalia’. It is not referred to as ‘costumes’. Each regalia is unique. It can signal that the wearer is part of a particular clan or has a connection with a spirit animal. For Pamela Papatie, her daughters’ regalia can reflect both personal choice, and how they are feeling; it can be a vehicle for expressing something they wish to convey or an interpretation of their dreams. This traditional clothing is magnificent, and colourful. It must never be touched without permission. Be observant.

Finally, always bear in mind that the pow wow site is a sacred place. It is forbidden to move around inside the dance arena. Sometimes, people are allowed to join in during the big intertribal dances. Here again, it’s the emcee who will let you know when that is going to happen. Stay curious.

Photo | Christian Leduc

Seeking to Reclaim their Culture

For Indigenous communities, the pow wow is a way of reclaiming their culture and their traditions. Pow wows are a vehicle for sharing, among other things, values, pride, respect and wellness, with youth and elders.

This kind of celebration plays an important role in the life of many Aboriginal people. For example, most of the community is involved in preparing for the Lac Simon Pow Wow. The gathering is a way for them to see their family and friends and to celebrate their cultural heritage together. The pow wow means something different for each individual. For Pamela Papatie, it is highly significant: she wants to follow in her grandmother Janette’s footsteps by raising her daughters with a spiritual orientation. For her, the pow wows aren’t just songs and dances, they are prayers for her children, for Nature, the Earth, the animals, men and women. It’s important for her because it helps her to reconnect with her identity, her Indigenous cultural identity that was lost during the residential school era.

Pow wows are also a way of demonstrating the pride Aboriginal peoples still feel as members of our First Nations. Inviting non-Aboriginals to their pow wow is also a step towards reconciliation.

Jerry Hunter un danseur traditionnel autochtone du Lac Simon lors du Pow-Wow des Voyages virtuels Abitibi 360

Photo | Christian Leduc

To see what is looking like a Pow-Wow, you can check out the fourth episode of Abitibi 360’s documentaries here. It takes the viewer on a virtual journey with Jerry Hunter, a traditional dancer, as the community prepares for the Lac Simon Pow Wow. You’ll discover a beautiful colourful world and feel the community’s desire to instill an understanding of Aboriginal culture.

If you’d like to know more about Indigenous culture, there’s a cultural and touristic site you might want to check out in Val-d’Or. It’s called ‘Kinawit’  Through guided tours and cultural workshops, Kinawit creates a full cultural experience. You can learn more about the history of the First Peoples and their presence on this land for thousands of years. Walking in the woods, collecting medicinal plants and making crafts are all options with a Kinawit experience.

In light of the current pandemic, schedules and activities may change, so be sure to check with Kinawit directly.


My special thanks go to Pamela Papatie, who took the time to answer all my questions.

For her part, Pamela would like to extend her deep gratitude to the merchants who support the pow wow financially. Their financial contributions enable Lac Simon to hold this celebration every year.

Thanks also to Janet Mark and Caroline Lemire who helped to point me in the right direction.


Sources :

Guide 101 des Pow-Wow 

La route des Pow-Wow 2019

L’encyclopédie Canadienne : Pow-Wow

Pamela Papatie, sur le comité organisateur du Pow-Wow du Lac Simon.

Les voyages virtuels Abitibi 360 sont

Produit avec la participation du :

Fonds Bell

Fonds d’aide au rayonnement des régions

Présenté par :


Une production de :

Nadagam films

En collaboration avec :

Tourisme Val-d’Or

La Fabrique culturelle



Image de couverture | Christian Leduc

10 Artists to Add to Your Playlist

10 Artists to Add to Your Playlist

Quebec is full of exceptional singers and musicians. Here in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, we’re blessed with some of the most talented among them. Whatever your preferred musical style, you’ll definitely find something you like in the great repertoire of music in this area.  We wanted to introduce—or reintroduce—a few of the region’s artists. The list could have been a lot longer, but, for starters, here are 10 musical artists from Abitibi-Témiscamingue to add to your playlist.

Zach Zoya

Zach Zoya comes from Rouyn-Noranda and is now an established rapper in Montréal. At the tender young age of 21, he’d already earned the moniker ‘Quebec’s Drake’. Perhaps you saw him performing in Val d’Or and Rouyn-Noranda last year at the FRIMAT and FME music festivals? Increasingly making a name for himself in the province, this young artist now has quite a few songs to his credit, including a mini-album with rapper High Klassified. His tunes have hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

Tip: Check out Who Dat


Alexandre Picard, Jean-Sébastien Trudel, Christian Frenette, and Michael Neault formed the musical group Lubik in 2010. The rock band has made frequent appearances these past few years, at the Osisko en Lumières (2016) and FRIMAT (2017) music festivals to name a couple. Lubik’s made a name for themselves in Quebec. They were featured on Belle et Bum (Quebec TV show) and received three awards at the Dédé Fortin festival in 2014. Originally from La Sarre, the four band members flaunt their Abitibi pride, as evidenced in their piece Abitibi Power.

Tip: Have a listen to Laisse-toé aller


Vertige is a four-member reggae-pop-alternative-type band. Originally from Rouyn-Noranda, Marc-Olivier Gratton, Guillaume Laroche, Olivier Migneault and Shawnee Jacques-Godard came together as a group about five years ago. They’re known for their punchy stage performances and love getting audiences up and moving. They performed at FRIMAT in 2017 and their latest album, Renaître, came out in March 2019.

Tip: Check out Jeunes et cons


Founded in 2015, the Saratoga duo is made up of Val d’Or native Chantal Archambault and her partner Michel-Olivier Gasse. Chantal is a songwriter, composer and performer who started a solo career a few years before Saratoga was formed. In 2011, she was nominated for an ADISQ award. Now, her full-time commitment is to Saratoga, a folk music duo that has produced an EP as well as a full-length album.

Tip : Have a listen to On est pas du monde


Big winners at FRIMAT in 2014, Nanochrome is an Indie rock group made up of five members, Alex Poirier-Lemoine, Gabriel Poirier-Lemoine, François Lachapelle, Fred Plante and Michaël Neault. Their album L’exutoire came out in 2015 and, since then, the Val-d’Or natives have performed often at festivals in the area, such as Osisko en Lumières in 2016. They even performed in Montréal for the first time in 2017.

Tip: Check out Entre-temps

Phil Moreau

Phil Moreau is a songwriter, composer and performer from Rouyn Noranda. His career began around 2010, with the recording of his first demo. He subsequently performed in a number of festivals, including FRIMAT, where he won the Télé-Québec award for his lyrics in 2011 and where he also performed in 2018. In 2017, he put out the mini album Gros temps, with five folk-rock songs.

Tip: Have a listen to La mauvaise herbe ne meurt jamais

Laurence Doire

Only 20 years old, Laurence Doire is a country singer from Beaucanton. Based out of Montréal, this young woman produced her first album Soirée du Nord in October 2018, which included six songs in French. Since 2015, she’s been lead singer with the five-piece Laurence Doire country band. She now performs at a lot of parties and events.

Tip: Check out Ek’ mon skidoo


Originally from Ville-Marie in Témiscamingue, Cleõphüzz is a psychedelic rock band whose work is infused with desert themes. Alex Sabourin, Joseph Grenier, Joé Poitras, Xavier Nadeau Ouellet and Caroline Rondeau make up the group. They performed last year at FRIMAT, and put out an EP called Wizard of Phuzz in 2018. On March 20 this year, their new piece, Desperados, was picked up by Spotify.

Tip: Have a listen to Sandstorm

Adam Brousseau

Adam Brousseau is a young musician from La Sarre, now living in Drummondville. Although he’s just 18 years old, he put out his first album called Paradox in 2018. He opened for the Dead Obies last year at FRIMAT and all indications are that a bright musical future lies ahead.  Brousseau is a singer, songwriter, composer and guitarist; his music style can best be described as progressive, psychedelic rock.

Tip: Check out Incognito

Louis-Philippe Gingras

Originally from Rouyn-Noranda, Louis-Philippe Gingras is now based out of Montréal, and has performed throughout the province of Quebec. After studying jazz at university, he put out two full-length albums in 2013 and 2016, as well as numerous other singles. While being poetic, his songs are melodious, lively, and humorous.

Tip: Have a listen to Parc à chiens


Le groupe Nanochrome au FRIMAT en 2014, photo de Marie-Claude Robert




La fabrique culturelle




Laurence Doire Country Band (site officiel)

Saratoga (site officiel)

Louis-Philippe Gingras (site officiel)

top five Classic