Pow Wow in Ottawa

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A couple of years ago, I attended the National Aboriginal Day celebrations on Victoria Island, by Parliament Hill. I was introduced to Aboriginal’s culture and had a great day among the performers.

This year, I was pleasantly surprised to see the festival had grown quite a bit. It has now moved to Vimy Place, on Lebreton Flats—and it was packed!

I spent most of the time watching the pow wow competition where dozens of kids, men, women and elders took turn performing traditional dances. The costumes were simply amazing! The atmosphere was great too, people were relaxed and welcoming… a photographer’s dream.

As a new Canadian, I fell in love with Aboriginal culture. Despite years of forced assimilation into French and English settlers’ culture and terrifying statistic regarding poverty, incarceration and education, Aboriginal culture is alive in Canada. I find it comforting. Maybe it’s not too late to end the injustices. Each nation had done atrocities at one point or another in history, but great nations acknowledge it eventually and put it right. And it’s also up to us, new Canadians, to learn about Aboriginal culture and to respect it. So let’s celebrate!

You can see the complete set of pictures taken at the Aboriginal Solstice Festival on Flickr.

Aboriginal Drum


Native Veteran

Kid Dancing


Older Dancer

Awesome Makeup!

On Stage

Lost in the Crowd

Watching the Show

With a Little Help From My Friend

Three Dancers


Watching the Show

Getting Ready


Eagle Drum

Thanking Each Others


Amazing Costumes


Braiding Hair


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Well said!
    Lovely pics. Only little bit by little bit do I learn more about the Natives, but I find it truly facinating.

  2. I love these pictures! You’re right, the culture of the local tribes is fascinating and it’s really cool to see it preserved in events like this. Thanks for sharing the pictures with us.

    • When son was little he loved attending pow wows. There are several in and within driving distance of Tulsa every year. We learned that Indian culture is alive, well, and thriving. He lost interest but i kind of miss the pow wows.

      • Oh, that’s original! I guess the costumes can be fascinating for kids, and the rythm of the dance is easy to follow. You should go again!

  3. Oklahoma has more Native Americans (what you call aborigines or First Nations) than any other state. Many of us are at least part Indian. I am part Cherokee) There are several excellent Pow-wows in Tulsa and many others across the state.

  4. Wow! The photos you got were amazing. Such awesome costumes! That looks like it would be a fun event to attend… By the way, it’s Vancouver Island and Victoria is the Capital, not Victoria Island. I guess there could be a Victoria Island out there somewhere though. 🙂

  5. Beautiful pictures! Aboriginal culture is very interesting and it reminds me of a book I read in few weeks ago, which is about how they consider dreams (we have during asleep but ignored by most of the people who live in the city) as part of their life.

    • Have you ever seen dream-catchers? Dreams indeed seem to be at the centre of some aboriginal cultures. I should learn about it, the exact meaning etc.

  6. Salut Zhu,

    This is such an amazing event. I think that D would have killed to see native tribe members dance and parade in their costumes! We both love this but you don’t see this happen in France.
    All the beautiful colors and detail. I love that.
    One notable happening for us; we leave tomorrow on our first “break” in over 15 months. Destination: la Touraine 🙂

    • It doesn’t happen very often in Ottawa either. I’ve heard that many Aboriginal cultures were more active in the West. This is a fairly rare event for our region!

      Happy travels 🙂

  7. I’m really glad to see these type of festivals. Unfortunately I think we have a long way to go in terms of figuring out the Aboriginal/European settlers living arrangements. I grew up 10 minutes from a reserve and in my opinion what we’re doing now is not working – for either side. I don’t have the answers, but I sincerely hope that we can all come together.

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