Saturday, October 12, 2013

Jingle Dress Healing Dance at Portage Avenue and Main Street, Winnipeg

This morning I woke up early to prepare for a bus ride to the center of Winnipeg. The day was gloomy and I knew that the temperature had dropped during the night  with a bitter wind, creating the first cold autumn day But I wanted to get down to the intersection of Portage Ave and Main Street where a very special event was taking place.

Several months ago I had read an article (reference) about James Anaya, the United Nations Special rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He had first requested to visit Canada in February 2012 and then proceeded to make at least  two more requests. He wanted to come to investigate the human rights situation of Indigenous peoples. However, our government (whose permission he needed to visit Canada) ignored or blocked his request. It was not until this month, October 2013 that he finally was able to come. Today, 12 October, was the day he was coming to Winnipeg.

In celebration of his visit a Jingle Dress  Dance was planned to occur at the main intersection in Winnipeg's downtown. The Jingle Dress and the dances associated with it originated with the Ojibway nation and traditionally have been given  a healing power. " A sacred obligation is carried by women who wear this dress as Jingle dress dancers are often called upon to dance for a sick or injured community member or to help families who are grieving."(reference). 

Thus today was a day to remember the almost 600 indigenous women from Canada who are murdered or missing and the people who are grieving for them. This is a topic that James Anaya will be investigating as recently the  Conservative majority federal government refused  to hold a national inquiry into the documented murders or disappearances.

I was quite early for the dance and when i got to the intersection nobody was there. So I walked down to Tim Horton's for a coffee and a pumpkin donut. As came back I watched people begin to gather. Many had a coffee cup in hand and greeted each other.
As the women wearing jingle dresses gathered you could hear the tinkle of the metal cones that are sewn to the dresses.
A call went out for all women wearing jingle dresses to line up to enter the big intersection as soon as
James Anaya appeared.
Two young dancers hugged each other to try to keep warm in the bitter wind.
The drum went out first, then the dancers followed.

Dancers from Treaty 3
A reporter holds a microphone down to the jingly metal cones to record the sound.
The dancers circled the intersection around the drums and singers

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