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“The union of the eagle with the condor to elevate our spirits” is bringing a glimmer of hope to the community during this pandemic.
With powwows cancelled due to COVID-19 all across Canada, Al Harrington and the Centre de l’Immigration en Région joined forces to offer a special powwow on Saturday, September 19 in Grenville.
“This is about restoring our spirits in these pandemic times,” said Harrington, who’s been living in Kanesatake for more than 13 years. “It’s much-needed. A lot of people are in depression for numerous reasons. I also do it for myself, I strongly believe in our ways and medicine.”
Harrington explained that one of his goals with the one-day powwow is to offer education for people who are unfamiliar with Indigenous dance, medicine and culture.
“With COVID, we all need to educate ourselves better on how to protect each other,” said the 44-year-old. People can also expect dancers and craft and food vendors, among other things.
While the event is taking place at the Séminaire du SacréCoeur and is open to everyone, Harrington is well-aware of the 250 people limitation imposed by the Quebec government.
He said he took all the measures required to make sure the place was safe.
“It will be mandatory to wear masks, we will have various washing stations onsite and it’s a huge area,” said Harrington. “There’s enough space for us to respect social distancing.”
Harrington has been organizing the event in his spare time with the help of a few friends as well as Gabriel Garcia, the director of the Immigration Centre.
Garcia, who put together an impressive setlist of performers, said creating the event was inspired by his own Aztec heritage.
He shared with The Eastern Door that Mexico, along with his own identity, was deeply hurt by colonization. This also brought him closer to Indigenous communities here in Canada.
“It’s really important to promote history and culture,” said Garcia. who was born in Mexico City and moved to Quebec more than 20 years ago. “It’s a life mission for me! We all have a similar history, but I think we need to recognize First Nations and their origins.”
Culture might be the central message of the powwow, but Garcia also wants to promote agriculture for future generations. He believes the future of the region depends on people’s ability to take on new challenges, like the pandemic, to learn how to survive.
“We are so similar to animals, we just need to adapt,” he said.
Garcia shared the story behind the powwow theme, which is under the union of the eagle and the condor.
It reflects a prophecy where both these animals fly alongside each other to unify humanity, as nations of the south and north will find their balance in the world.
The powwow will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with no alcohol or drugs allowed onsite.