In early August, one highlight of the Saanich Peninsula area is the Yellow Wolf Intertribal Powwow, but this year’s event has been postponed to give organizers a chance to regroup.
Angel Sampson, one of the main organizers, said this year would have been the 25th anniversary of the family-run event, but Sampson said a number of organizers have faced health issues recently, so they are taking the year off to mentor the next generation of organizers, including volunteers and younger members of the family, so the event can continue into the future. Sampson said one of her brothers (and a fellow organizer) had also died recently, and in their culture, they needed to memorialize him properly in order to continue with the powwow.
“We decided it’s best just to take the year, considering a number of people are not well,” she said.
The same family members have been organizing the event for the past 24 years, said Sampson, who is the second youngest of 12.
Of the organizers, six are in their late 50s or early 60s, and a few older sisters in their 80s, so some cannot take on the work that they used to. Sampson said “there’s probably about 70 things that need to be taken care of every year” like contacting volunteers, booking rental equipment, booking facilities, grocery shopping and cooking.
A non-profit organization runs the powwow, and none of the organizers are paid, said Sampson.
“It’s a fun event every year, but it’s a lot of work putting it together.
“When we started out, we literally started out with five dollars,” said Sampson, because the family used to do war canoe races in memory of her father, but felt an event should honour their mother, too.
She was not there to teach the family how to hold a powwow, and Angel was the only family member who was regularly taken to one, so they learned on their own.
Sampson said the biggest powwow she can think of was the year of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, where “we had people from every imaginable part of the world,” due to the Games, including participants from Scotland, Colorado, Vietnam, Korea and a whole tribe of dancers from New Guinea. Participants routinely come from Saskatchewan, Washington State, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.
Sampson thanked the public for their interest every year, and assured them that they would be back.
“This is too important of an event for us to let go of.”
The next Yellow Wolf Intertribal Powwow is tentatively scheduled for next year’s BC Day long weekend: Aug. 2, 3 and 4, 2019, and will likely be at the LAU’WELNEW Tribal School in Central Saanich.
For more information or to help out, call Sampson at 250 665 7777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.