SADDLE LAKE - Circled by a panoramic view of the cultural park by the North Saskatchewan River, the Saddle Lake community was joined by a huge crowd of visitors and relatives from near and far, in celebrating the Saddle Lake First Nations Centennial Powwow.
Hundreds of people set up camp and more came to join the three-day celebration of the 100th birthday of the Saddle Lake reserve community.
Saddle Lake went all out in sharing its hospitality, with a packed activities program that ensuree participation by everyone of all ages.
The Cree culture of this community was a prominent feature throughout the celebration, with the community history presented by community Elders, daily hospitality rations, and a contemporary competition powwow interspersed with age old traditional ceremonies and dances.
Each morning started out with the pipe ceremony with Elder praying for a strong community spirit to prevail over the camp. Flag raising ceremonies followed with Canadian and American Indian veterans doing the honours that were once done by plains Indian warriors.
An early morning exercise of the legs and lungs began the camp activities with all age groups competing in the daily footraces, organized by Saddle Lake Counselling Services.
The handgames tournament and card games were begun shortly afterward.
The visiting between camps was begun at breakfast time and continued throughout the day into the late hours of the evening.
The Saddle Lake Centennial Princess pageant held judging of pageant categories each morning of the celebration days. There were 29 entries competing for the Senior, junior and tiny tot princess titles. Stephanie McGillvery of Saddle Lake, was crowned as the Saddle Lake Centennial Princess and Denna Cardinal also of Saddle Lake was crowned as the saddle Lake Centennial Junior Princess and Bangy Steinhauer of Saddle Lake was chosen as the Tiny Tot crowned princess.
Drumming groups and dances travelled from various parts of Canada and the United States to join the dancing competition, which gave out over $25,000 dollars in prize money.
The celebration host drum was Mandaree, from North Dakota, United States and the honourary Canadian host drum was Bobtail.
Master of ceremonies Eric Cardinal, from Saddle Lake, entertained the crowd with his jokes and humorous stories (such as the story of a dog named Sex,) as he and Lyman McGillvery arena director kept the powwow moving on a well paced and organized level.
Fancy and traditional dancers dressed in their regalia, pleased the spectator crowd with a very colourful entertainment, as they tried for the honors and trophies offered in the different dancing venues.
The Rose McGillvery Memorial Run held on June 19 as part of the celebration activities, had numerous entries in all age groups, competing in the 6 kilometre long distance foot race.
This marathon run, was held in honour of the late Rose McGillvery from Saddle Lake for her athletic and personal contribution to the community.
All in all it was a very memorable event for Saddle Lake as they look ahead to ensure their cultural survival through the next one hundred years.