Hundreds take in First Nations dancing, drumming

‘It’s like there’s a fire inside me’

Raissa Tetanish
Published on January 21, 2014

TRURO – For 28 years, Ashley Julian has been dancing at local powwows, such as the Mawi’omi held Tuesday at the Nova Scotia Community College Truro campus.

“It’s more like a passion,” said Julian, of Indian Brook. “I’ve been around the drum my entire life. My grandmother, Becky Julian, is a craft seller and she is my inspiration.”

Julian was in full regalia for the seventh annual event and was all over the gymnasium floor for the fancy shawl dance.

“It’s like there’s a fire inside me,” said the bachelor of education student, who attends St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. “When it comes to dancing, I think of a butterfly and try to be light on my feet and twirl fast.

“It’s like I’m in a trance.”

Following the fancy shawl dance, Julian had to catch her breath, as she exchanged pleasantries with her grandmother.

Coming to powwows isn’t just about the dancing to Julian.

“It’s like you’re reunited with your family and friends,” she said.

Open to the public, the Mawi’omi featured four groups of drummers and about 40 dancers. Everyone watching the event was able to participate, and many students from local schools joined hands and circled the gymnasium for the round dance.

Adult Learning Program students Amber Caldwell and Pam Thompson took in the Mawi’omi and were planning on using the experience for a paper on culture for their English course.

“I’ve never been to one before,” said Caldwell. “But I think it’s great.”

“The music is the best,” said Thompson, before hesitating and adding, “but no, the dancers are great too.”

Having been to powwows before, Thompson knew what the Mawi’omi would bring, and she was happy to have seen so many children at the event.

“It’s good to see the kids doing this,” she said of the children dressed in regalia.

“And the other kids that are here watching participating too,” added Caldwell.

Twitter: @TDNRaissa