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Keeping Mi’kmaq culture alive in Grand Falls-Windsor

Mother and daughter, Yolanda and Alexa LeDrew, tried out the Jingle Dance being taught by Arlene White.
Mother and daughter, Yolanda and Alexa LeDrew, tried out the Jingle Dance being taught by Arlene White.

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL — The first annual Exploit’s Community Mawio’mi was all about knowledge sharing. According to organizers, this past weekend’s event exceeded expectations.

“It went awesome – better than we expected,” said Charlene Combdon, secretary of the Exploit’s Aboriginal Community Group. “We wanted to see how it would be perceived and the support we would get.”

People came from around the province to join in the inaugural event and Combdon believes the connection made will make future events even better.

“We made relationships and we have contacts with the knowledge keepers so they’ll be back,” she told the Advertiser Tuesday.

The event– billed as a celebration of Mi’kmaq history, culture and heritage - ran over three days and included teachings on things such as drumming, dancing and singing as well as some special ceremonies.

“It was all about learning, and we have to continue to learn,” added Combdon.

Support came in a number of ways. Combdon mentioned specifically the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor whose help “went above and beyond.”

The Exploit’s Aboriginal Community Group is just two years old and Combdon was delighted they could arrange such an event already.

She noted, however, that their success relied a great deal on support of other organizations such as the Qalipu First Nation, Qalipu Cultural Committee and the Exploits Native Women’s Group.

Critical to the teaching aspect of the gathering was the input of the Bay St. George Cultural Revival Committee.

“Without them it wouldn’t have went as well,” Combdon said.

Ceremonial dance was one of the activities that highlighted the agenda for the first Exploits Community Mawio’mi this past weekend at Gorge Park in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Kelly Anne Butler attended the Exploits Community Mawio’mi to demonstrate the wampum belt project undertaken by Grenfell College.
Colourful attire was the order of the day as people from around the province participated in traditional dance activities.

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