Head dancers Laryn Oakes (left) and T.J. Warren at the 2018 Graduation Powwow. (Photo: Dave Stobbe)

Graduation Powwow moves to Merlis Belsher Place

Remember the times Graduation Powwow was held in Convocation Hall, the PAC or the Education Gymnasium? Or when the beat of the powwow drums could be heard coming from Griffiths Stadium?

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) powwow has been held in many different locations across campus since it started in the 1980s. On May 31, the Graduation Powwow is moving to the new Merlis Belsher Place and Graeme Joseph, team leader of First Nations, Métis and Inuit student success at USask and the chair of the Graduation Powwow committee, said it will be an improved experience for all involved.

“Since I’ve been involved in powwow on campus it has always been planned for The Bowl,” Joseph said. “But weather is so unpredictable, we’ve held it in three different locations over the course my four years involved. Merlis Belsher Place will improve the experience for spectators, drummers and dancers, but will also give a greater level of security for people planning on attending.”

Last year the committee decided two days before powwow to move inside to the Education Gymnasium, based on the weather.

Graeme Joseph, team leader of First Nations, Métis and Inuit student success at USask and chair of the Graduation Powwow committee.

“It was something we planned for, but it wasn’t ideal,” Joseph said. “And it was stressful for everyone involved. In the end I was happy how our committee and volunteers pulled together despite all the challenges.”

Another significant change to the Graduation Powwow is that it is now officially an event associated with convocation week. Graeme said convocation moving back to campus was a great opportunity to combine the two celebratory events together.

“We have over 3,000 Indigenous students on campus now,” he said. “Honouring their academic success in a meaningful way within their own culture is something that is important to the university and to the students. Making Graduation Powwow an official convocation event furthers our commitment to them and their communities.”

While this year’s Graduation Powwow will look different in Merlis Belsher Place, the planned activities remain the same, as the powwow continues to be the largest annual Indigenous event held by the university—and open to everyone.

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