~n_Powwow for website

Beating drums could be heard thundering from the other side of the school while dancers moved in sync with each other, causing a rippling effect of traditional song and dance.

The setup for the powwow was typical, with a series of large circles: The drummers in the middle of the centre circle, the microphone and guest speakers at the outside of the centre circle and the dancers in the outer circle.

The student funded powwow on Jan. 29 at the college cafeteria brought together a huge crowd of students, teachers and workers at Algonquin from all cultures and backgrounds.

Roxanne MacLeod, 26, was one of the workers for the powwow. MacLeod is a Cree first-year event management student at Algonquin.

“Powwows are a great thing,” said MacLeod. “I’m having a lot of fun.”

Students were placed on the outside of the outer circle, with rows of chairs set up around the dance circle. Anyone was allowed to dance with the dancers during certain songs.

The opening ceremony began with a short prayer. The Eagle Staff was followed by flag bearers, dancers, elders and veterans while the host drums took turns singing the opening song.

The Eagle Staff, held by an elder, represents the honour of the Algonquin tribe. The dancers and drummers follow the Eagle Staff as its holder dictates the flow of the powwow.

Ryan Murray, 37, and Christine Kasongo, 20, were two of many non-Aboriginals who attended the event. Kasongo is a first-year student in the social service worker program.

“I find it interesting,” said Murray. “Powwows are new for me.”

“Being a social worker, I will work with lots of people of different backgrounds,” said Kasongo. “I want to know more about traditional culture.”

Russel Dixon, 26, is an Aboriginal student who attended the powwow to show support for his culture. Dixon is a third-year civil engineering technology student.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Dixon. “I love going to powwows. People don’t know what they’re missing out on.”