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Honoring Indigenous Graduates and Red Dress Day at 2024 Graduation Pow Wow

Honoring Indigenous Graduates and Red Dress Day at 2024 Graduation Pow Wow


Once again, the University of Winnipeg will honor our Indigenous graduates at the 19th annual Graduation Pow Wow on May 5, and this year's event will be a little different.

The graduate powwow, which in previous years took place in March, will take place on Sunday, May 5. This decision was taken in coordination with Red River College And University of Manitoba to create a powwow weekend.

It is not easy for Indigenous people to navigate colonial systems, and yet here we are, succeeding in systems that were never meant for us.

Sarah DeLaronde

A new addition this year is the Red Dress Special in honor of Red Dress Day (May 5) or National Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S+). The special event will include a ceremony honoring graduates who are members of the MMIWG2S+ family and will be hosted by Giganawenimaanaanig (also known as the Manitoba MMIWG2S+ Coalition).

We wanted to make sure we honored this day,” said Sarah DeLaronde, coordinator of the Indigenous Student Services Center (ASSC). Recognizing that, for some graduates and participants, these are their family members. We want to make sure they feel love that day and feel seen.

This year's event will also feature a memorial for senior Calvin Pompana.

Elder Wakin ya Hosksida/Calvin Pompana (Thunder Boy) was a proud member of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, who joined ASSC in the winter of 2017 as one of the Elders in Residence.

Throughout his time at the University of Winnipeg, he hosted numerous cultural activities, including sweat lodge and pipe ceremonies, medicine gatherings, and sharing and healing circles. He has lectured extensively on a variety of topics, including the Sun Dance and his experiences at residential schools.

Having attended two graduation powwows as a University of Winnipeg graduate, DeLaronde said the annual event is a way for communities to come together and for Indigenous people to take space on the campus.

It's not easy for Indigenous people to navigate colonial systems, and yet here we are, succeeding in systems that were never meant for us, she said. We have the opportunity as ASSC Indigenous staff to honor our graduates in a good way and also show other prospective Indigenous students that they will be supported in the same way in the future .

Everyone is welcome to attend all parts of the day, and no registration is required for general participation. ASSC asks participants to be respectful to dancers and graduates. Volunteers and staff will be on hand to answer all your questions.

Celebrations will be held at the Duckworth Center, 400 Spence St., on May 5, beginning with a pipe ceremony with Elder Dan Thomas and a grand entrance at 12:30 p.m. Graduates will be honored prior to any competition.

Registration for dancers and drummers opens at 10:00 a.m. Fees will be paid to all dancers. Honoraria will be paid to the first 10 drum groups, which is new for 2024.

Competitions are for all ages, including Tiny Tots, Junior, Teens, Adult and Golden Age categories. Dance categories will include jingle, traditional, fancy shawl, traditional wiggle and grass/chicken.

Craft vendors will also be set up at the event and a community party will be held at 5 p.m.

Participation is free and all are welcome. For more information visit the Graduation Pow Wow event page.

10:00 a.m. – Registration of dancers and drummers

11:00 a.m. – Pipe ceremony

12:30 p.m. – Grand entrance

5:00 p.m. – Party

Master of Ceremonies – Ray Coco Stevenson

Arena Director – Tyson Henry

Hosted by – UW Indigenous Student Services Center




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