Road to Joy: Inspirational Youth at the Heart of Panmure Island Pow-Wow

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Community, togetherness, love and kindness are all at the heart of the annual PEI Panmure Island Pow Wow, but this year the focus was more on the inspiration of the next generation.

Hoop dancer Sophia Bourque is this new generation.

An emerging leader herself, Bourque hopes her performance as a hoop dancer will inspire younger people to get into the dance.

“Music usually gets you excited and moving, and drumming is like your heartbeat,” she said. “I was inspired, so inspiring little kids with hula hoops – that makes me happy, because that’s how I learned to hula hoops.”

“That’s what we’re looking to do here today is to show that our culture is alive and well,” says Koady Sock. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

This weekend was the 28th Annual Panmure Island Pow Wow in Eastern PEI.

‘It depends on us’

Koady Sock is a member of the Lonecry Singers, an Abegweit First Nation drumming group. He said he views the Panmure Island Pow Wow as a way to celebrate Indigenous traditions, as well as share knowledge and teachings with the public.

Hoop dancer Sophia Bourque at the 28th Annual Panmure Island Pow Wow. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

“That’s what we’re looking to do here today is to show that our culture is alive and well,” he said. “It does me good to know, after traveling for so long, that in my own backyard there are people… [who] are very proud of the culture they celebrate today.”

Sock said seeing people come together and celebrate at the powwow is an amazing feeling, especially when members of other groups in the region and country also visit and share their culture and teachings.

As soon as they hear this drum, they are drawn to it.—Parker Larkin

All of this leads to a growing sense of pride and passion among young Aboriginal people, two feelings that are dear to him.

“Whether it’s crafting, dancing, drumming, or whatever aspect of the culture appeals to them, it’s up to us as drummers to continually try to pass those teachings on to the next generation in order to not losing our language, our practice, so that these dancers really have something to dance to.”

“I love the joy it brings”

Parker Larkin is Saulteaux and has been playing drums since he was a teenager, falling in love while traveling and performing across the country.

Lonecry Singer Koady Sock at Panmure Island Pow Wow. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

“It’s pure bliss,” he said. “If you look around…every time we play drums, we’re always smiling and laughing during the song. It’s just that we’re having fun.

“I love the joy it brings to people, especially children.”

Larkin said that in all his years of drumming, every time the sound starts and the power of the drum starts to resonate through the crowd, the kids come straight to the source.

Parker Larkin says that if a child is attracted to drumming, teach them and “never push them away”. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

“The story I was told, the drum represents a mother’s heartbeat,” he said. “So as soon as they hear that drum, they’re drawn to it.

“So if a child runs towards a drum, never push him away.”

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