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20th annual Pow Wow celebrated on University of Waterloo campus

The United College at the University of Waterloo celebrated it’s 20th annual Pow Wow on Saturday.

This year's Pow Wow celebration also represents the inaugural collaboration between the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) and the Office of Indigenous Relations (OIR).

It is a cultural celebration that highlights Indigenous cultures through song, dance, arts and traditional food.

"A lot of it is really about visiting and being with people that maybe you haven't seen all year," said Jean Becker, associate vice-president of Indigenous relations at the University of Waterloo.

The United College’s annual Pow Wow began in 2004 when Becker held the role of Aboriginal Student Counsellor at St. Paul's University College, now known as United College.

When guests arrive at the Pow Wow, they are welcomed by the sound of traditional singing, drumming and dancers in colourful regalia.

"We feel so proud to wear our clothes and let people participate with the dancing and the singing," Becker said, talking about how the tradition has grown over the last two decades.

As the Indigenous community grew on campus, WISC was created to be a friendly and safe space at United College where Indigenous students could connect with other Indigenous students and members of the Waterloo community.

"There's many people that are going to be here today that have never been to a Pow Wow. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous," said Savanah Seaton.

A significant change this year is that the Pow Wow was held inside the Columbia Icefield. It signifies the partnership of different departments.

"To host this on our campus and our facility amongst our community is a great day," said Roly Webster, director of athletics and recreation at the university.

Saturday's event comes one week before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

"It's kind of a preparation for that. Maybe a bit more solemn occasion when we'll gather," said Becker.

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