Manitou Rapids hosts pow-wow for sobriety

To combat alcohol abuse in native communities and celebrate the resolve of those who choose not to drink, Rainy River First Nations held its first sobriety pow-wow there last weekend.
“This is a bit of a new thing. It’s the first one we’ve had and it’s to celebrate our sobriety,” said band member and drummer Murray Bombay.
While some of those attending were former alcoholics, others were parents, relatives, and neighbours of alcoholics or just wanted to show their support for a sober environment.
They all came together to show community support against drinking excessively with discussion, speeches, and traditional ceremonies.
“It definitely helps people–people who are sober and trying to remain sober,” said Bombay.
The gathering was a two-day event with traditional dancing, singing, and drumming. Participants and spectators brought food for a potluck supper, and lined the perimeter of the Manitou Hall as singers sat in the centre and dancers surrounded them.
After the traditional entry dance, two elders spoke in their native tongue before leading the way in a ceremonial dance in which most of the people in the room took part.
Representatives from native communities across Ontario and Manitoba, as well as from Minnesota, attended the pow-wow.
Murray said the sobriety pow-wow is a very recent idea that’s just beginning to catch on in native communities to promote prevention and tradition simultaneously.
“It’s like the Alcoholics Anonymous that non-native people attend but it’s like doing it culturally and traditionally,” he explained.