‘It’s very healing’: Pulling off a pow-wow in pandemic-stricken Quebec 

Social distance pow-wows have taken place over the internet ever since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the country, forcing many to change their plans.

But organizers in Quebec were dead set on making one happen in real life – and pulled it off over the weekend, despite government warnings and last minute cancellations.

“My belief for a pow-wow – it’s very healing. There’s good medicine,” explained Alan Harrington, organizer of the “Eagle and Condor Pow-wow,” held this year in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, 100 kilometres east of Montreal.

Just before the weekend, Quebec Public Health officials announced a doubling down on social-distancing related penalties. The number of daily COVID-19 cases rose to numbers not seen since May.

Several performers and vendors opted to respect the warnings and not travel between regions. Many of them cancelled the morning of, Harrington said.

But after hearing the news, organizers of a nearby “Fiesta Agriculturelle,” an event celebrating immigrant culture in the region, offered to hold both events at a shared space.

“I thought the turnout was great, Harrington added. “In past experience, I’ve had an Elder say to me ‘if you have one drum – one person that shows up, it’s a great day.”

Reporter / Montreal

Lindsay was born and raised on the unceded territory of Tiohtià:ke (Montréal), and joined APTN News as a Quebec correspondent in 2019. While in university, she collaborated on a multiplatform project about the revitalization of the Kanien’kéha (Mohawk) language to commemorate the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Before APTN Lindsay worked at the Eastern Door, CTV Montreal and the Montreal Gazette.