An Esk’etemc First Nation Councillor hopes to see his dream of a powwow coinciding with next year’s greatest show on dirt come true.
“I’ve looked into this for maybe the last four to five years now and I’ve talked to our Chief about it. We’re planning on having one now and he’s all interested in it,” Frank Robbins said.
“We want to have a powwow here in Williams Lake because a lot of our people used to come to the stampede a long time ago just to get drunk, drink alcohol, and do drugs. But now a lot of our people don’t do drugs and alcohol; a lot of them don’t go to the rodeo either…If we have a powwow here in Williams Lake along with the Williams Lake Stampede a lot of our people instead of staying home doing nothing they can come and watch the powwow along with the Stampede.”
Calling it a long time dream Robbins added that a powwow would bring in a lot of people as well as revenue to Williams Lake.
“It would not only bring in the surrounding communities here in Williams Lake but people from Alberta, Saskatchewan, maybe Manitoba,” he said.
“Once a powwow is here in Williams Lake coinciding with the Stampede, I’m sure that we’ll have a lot of people here…Just by word of mouth and ear alone so far we’ve had a lot of interest from a lot of people.”
Robbins who has been on the powwow circuit himself for over 30 years said he recently attended a powwow in Kamloops that had drawn in thousands of people.
“It’ll be nice for the non-Indigenous people and tourists to see a different culture such as native dancing,” he added.
“I’m sure that once we get it on the road here we’ll be looking for a committee and along with the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and the City of Williams Lake, I think that we’ll have a successful powwow.”
CRD Chair Margo Wagner called it a wonderful idea at Friday’s Board meeting.
“I think it would be really good tourism wise to have Williams Lake to have that ability to have a First Nations experience along with the Stampede,” Wagner said.
“The Williams Lake Stampede on its own brings a tremendous number of tourists to Williams Lake and you combine the two it’s a great idea.”
Area E Director Angie Delainey who recalled a joint meeting in which the idea first came to the table said the project has the support of the CRD and City of Williams Lake in moving it forward.
“It’s a matter of now getting some agreements in place with the WLIB, we’ve got a fabulous festivals grant that we can look at, and then just sort of pulling together a committee and then figuring out which parts are moving and who’s doing what,” she said.
“I think that it’s a really great idea and it’s a big goal. We’ve got ten months if we want to hit it for next year we’ve got to get really organized on it.”