The stated objective of Canada's residential schools was forced assimilation, in a system that has since been classified as cultural genocide by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But the Canadian government's attempts to suppress and obliterate First Nations culture reached far beyond controlling indigenous education. The Indian Act of 1867 criminalized a variety of religious and cultural indigenous ceremonies—including powwows, potlatches, and sun dances—and the ban wasn't lifted until 1951. Powwows are one of the most powerful symbols of First Nations identity, and the summertime ceremony and social gatherings feature dancing, singing, drumming, and feasting rooted in historical indigenous traditions. These images are from the Piapot Powwow, which took place at Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan in August.
Powwows, along with other elements of First Nations traditions and culture such as sweat lodges, smudging, language, and faith, are returning in force to communities throughout Canada.
Migration and Refugees