People across Turtle Island turning to social media to lift their spirits

Pow wows and round dances are being cancelled due to COVID-19 but in the homes of many Indigenous families, culture and tradition are still celebrated.

Fawn Wood and her partner Dallas Waskahat are isolating at home in Saint Paul, Alberta with their three children, but are keeping busy by hosting a virtual round dance and pow wow.

“Our round dance season is usually winding up now but everything is cancelled and I think it kind of dampened a bunch of people’s spirits,” Wood told APTN News over video chat.

“Especially with what’s going on and everyone having to stay home.”

The coronavirus has killed more than 100 people in Canada and thousands in the United States.

The daily live online gathering has caught the attention of hundreds and is connecting people from all corners of Turtle Island. In addition, social media groups like ‘Social Distance Pow Wow’ have been created for sharing music and dance.

“That’s usually what we turn to as Indigenous people to uplift ourselves and bring the prayer and we gather and we sing and we dance and we practice culture and we’re not able to do that right now for health and safety reasons,” said Wood.

Wood said while social media and electronics often distance family members, it’s what is bringing all nations together during a time it’s needed needed the most.

“We have people saying that their whole family will gather in the living room to watch this and they look forward to it. People say ‘we always make sure to charge our phones and get our chores done before we start so we can enjoy everybody.”

“It’s what we were taught and practicing our beautiful art that we all share across Indian Country,” she said.

Video Journalist / Calgary

Tamara is Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She received a diploma in interactive media arts at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon and has worked as a videographer for CBC in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. Tamara was hired by APTN in 2016 as a camera/editor and is now a video journalist in our Calgary bureau.