Memorial Round Dance event returns to Battlefords

By Angela Brown
January 19, 2018 - 2:00pm

Battlefords area residents will have an opportunity to join in a traditional round dance coming to North Battleford next month. 

This marks the Third Memorial Round Dance in honour of Allen Sapp and Walking with Our Sisters.

Leah Garven is co-lead on the committee for Walking with Our Sisters-North Battleford and curator at the Allen Sapp Gallery. 

"The round dance started a couple of years ago as we were preparing to host the national art memorial - Walking with Our Sisters," she said. "This is a ceremony held commonly on the Plains and is very important to Indigenous peoples."

When the event was first being planned a few years ago it coincided with the passing of renowned Red Pheasant First Nation artist Allen Sapp, who died in December 2015. So his legacy is also recognized as part of the round dance. 

"It's a memorial round dance now for missing and murdered Indigenous women and for Allen Sapp," Garven added. "Tradition calls for the memorial round dance to be held for four years. This is the third year. We will have another one next year, and (that) will be the last year." 

The event is open to everyone - Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous people. 

Garven also said the local committee felt strongly about having a round dance to honour all missing and murdered Indigenous women.

"It's celebratory and it's a nice time together with the community, and it's free to attend," she added. "It's also a great way for families to heal, and to know other people are still thinking about them and their loved ones close to them."

The first year the event was held about 700 people attended. Garven said the local committee and a number of volunteers are also involved. Garven is also inviting more people who want to volunteer to come to help out. 

The round dance will include dancing, drumming and singing, with a lunch later in the evening. The first 20 lead singers participating will be honoured as part of the ceremony.

The event will be held Friday, Feb. 2, from 7 p.m. to midnight, at the Don Ross gymnasium.


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