The Town of Strathmore has officially announced its partnership with Siksika Nation to cohost what is being dubbed the Lead By Example Powwow.
The event is described by the Town as a cross-cultural community celebration and full contest powwow in honour of the late Kakato’si Kristian Ayoungman.
“From March 18-19, 2023, people from across Canada and the US will be travelling to experience world-class Indigenous singing and dancing, right here in Southern Alberta,” said Mayor Pat Fule. “Siksika Nation and the Town of Strathmore are on a journey – today’s (Jan. 24) announcement marks a monumental moment in our community’s partnership.”
Ayoungman lost his life after being fatally shot in 2019 after a dispute over cigarettes. Memorial services have been ongoing in various fashions since Ayoungman’s death.
A memorial now stands in Kinsmen Park for Ayoungman, bearing a plaque that reads “Lead by example,” a quote which was significant to Ayoungman.
A documentary honouring Ayoungman, which shares his name, was released in 2021 directed by Holly Fortier and Larry Day.
Astokomii Smith, Indigenous liaison for the Town of Strathmore, said Ayoungman’s mother Melodie approached the Town with the idea for the powwow in July 2022.
“Her idea, which was to honour Kristian for – this would be the fourth year memorial (and) in our traditional ways, we do things in fours … and she wanted to do something really big,” said Smith.
The event is scheduled to be hosted at the Strathmore Motor Products Sports Centre, given the larger scale over previous powwow events hosted in Strathmore, as well as being an indoor venue.
Town of Strathmore staff have been working closely with Siksika Nation members, who are on board with the Town’s powwow committee.
“The Lead by Example Powwow is an important next step for the Town of Strathmore and entire region’s reconciliation efforts; a step we are proud to take with Siksika Nation,” said Fule. “The Lead by Example Powwow will be a regional, high-energy event showcasing vibrant culture, song, dance, traditional craft vendors, authentic cuisine, storytelling, and demonstrations.”
The event is expected to draw the attention of people who follow powwows from across Canada and the US and ultimately bring in an attendance of several hundred.
For those who are interested in volunteering to help with the event, or become one of the limited sponsors being allowed to participate, more information regarding the powwow is available online (leadbyexamplepowwow.com).