The Conne River Powwow
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by Keith and Heather Nicol
We had never been to the Coast of Bays along the south coast of Newfoundland so when we heard about the Conne River Powwow we thought that we should make a point of visiting this year. In 2011, the Miawputek First Nation celebrated its 16th annual traditional powwow from June 30-July 3 so we planned to see the Saturday festivities in Conne River and then see some other parts of this area on Sunday, July 2. We were also very fortunate to get a guided tour of their "traditional medicine" trail by Chief Misel Joe who told us about which plants they would use for various types of health remedies. For instance, to combat mosquitoes they would crush young ferns and rub them on their skin. I will definitely be trying this the next time I am plagued by mosquitoes while hiking or camping.
This tour will be happening throughout the summer and the trail that they hold it on is very attractive and also has examples of various dwellings displayed along the way. You can even climb a side trail to Clem Joe's lookout for a fabulous view of the entire area (trailhead is at: 47 53.196 N and 55 42.822 W).
The Saturday afternoon powwow consisted of various drumming groups and dancers from a number of first nations groups including Inuit from Labrador, Mohawks from Ontario and of course local Mi'kmaq participants from Conne River. The dancers were all dressed in colourful outfits and it is a photographer's dream. We had perfect weather for the event and the sun and bright costumes made for ideal picture taking.
Part of the event is also a community meal with lots of different "country" food like moose, rabbit, salmon and cod. You can also take part in a sweat lodge ceremony if you wish. If you haven't been to this event circle it for next July 1 weekend. It is a unique cultural experience for this province since Conne River has the only recognized reserve on the island of Newfoundland. We also fully recommend going to the Mi'kmaq Discovery Centre which is just off of Highway 360 near Milltown.
We had a very good explanation of the displays from the tour guides, Severn and John Jeddore. This is open for the main tourism season and gives an insight into the entire area. For more information on the Discovery Centre, the guided "medicine" trail walks and the powwow contact Colleen Lambert at email@example.com or www.mfngov.ca