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Culture brings communities together

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services

Norman Wells (Mar 27/06) - A feast and dance celebrating Cultural Awareness Night in Norman Wells was a chance to bring communities together while the weather holds, said organizer Gail Strikes with a Gun.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Amber (left) and Jared Buffalo performed at the Cultural Awareness Night at the community hall in Norman Wells. The brother and sister duo from Hobbema, Alta., performed a series of traditional Cree dances at the event. - Photo courtesy of Gail Strikes with a Gun

“It gives everyone a chance to communicate with other communities while the ice road is open,” she said.

With this winter’s warm weather shortening the life span of the ice road, she said the event - which featured an all-ages jigging contest, fiddlers and traditional dancing and drumming - happened just in time.

“After that, everyone would have to fly in,” she said of getting around.

The gathering brought people from around the Sahtu communities, including Fort Good Hope, Tulita and Deline. Two of the night’s performers attended from the Hobbema First Nations in Alberta. Brother and sister duo Amber and Jared Buffalo demonstrated Cree dancing and costume, encouraging the children present to join in on a circle dance.

She said the jigging contest was also a big hit, with winners chosen in six age categories, “from babies right up to elders.” The winner of the 31- to 55-year-old category was Thomas Manuel from Fort Good Hope, who Strikes with a Gun said was also one of the only fiddlers in the area.

Overall, she said she felt the night was a success.

“It was excellent, the hall was filled to capacity,” said Strikes with a Gun.

“I was so pleased with the number of people who came out.

“I just wanted to bring everyone in. I wanted to listen to the music and the drums and dance,” she said.

Strikes with a Gun said the purpose of the evening was to help local youth build pride and self-esteem by participating in traditional activities, as well as to bridge the gap between elders and youth.

“Young people need to learn these skills and pass them on to the next generation,” she said.