Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow in North Bay

by | May 10, 2024 | Arts & Culture, Indigenous, Summer, Tourism Activities & Experiences

Celebrate 50 Years of Friendship at the Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow in North Bay

The beating heart of Indigenous culture comes alive at pow-wows, offering a vibrant tapestry of traditions, dances, and community spirit. In North Bay, the Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow, hosted by the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre (NBIFC), promises to be a celebration like no other. As the NBIFC marks its 50th anniversary, this year’s event on June 8th and 9th at Lee Park is a testament to half a century of fostering friendship and understanding.

A Cultural Extravaganza:

Pow-wows are more than just gatherings; they are windows into the diverse Indigenous cultures spanning Turtle Island (North America). Each pow-wow reflects the unique spirit of its community, ensuring no two events are exactly alike. The Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow embraces this diversity, inviting people from all backgrounds to come together to learn, share, and celebrate. Maamwi Kindaaswin in Ojibwe means “To learn together”.

photo credit: Lindsay Sarazin – Wolf Eye Productions

What to Expect:

Pay attention to announcers.

Led by Master of Ceremonies Bob Goulais, an Anishnaabe from Nipissing First Nation, attendees can anticipate a day filled with positive energy, laughter, and new connections. From explanations of dances and songs to coaching on proper etiquette and protocols, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. With over 50 Indigenous vendors offering their wares, including mouthwatering Indigenous tacos and refreshing lemonade, the event promises to tantalize the senses. So be sure to listen to the announcements and take note of what’s going on and particularly when he asks you to sit or stand for example please stand for Grand Entry (if you’re able) and the other songs and dances.

Please listen to all announcements during the Pow-wow – photo credit: Lindsay Sarazin – Wolf Eye Productions

Pow-wow Grounds Geography

At Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow, there is an arbour in the middle of the dance circle, and that is where our drummers and singers will be found.  You are welcome to visit the space, but please don’t touch anything without the express permission of the people taking care of the items.

The dance circle is where you will find the dancing happening, and EVERYONE is invited to dance during Inter-tribals, and there are all kinds of special dances throughout the day for you to watch and learn about. In this area, we dance in a clockwise direction, following the sun’s path.

At each of the 4 directions, there is a doorway into the dance circle. Please keep clear of them (don’t sit in them) and be mindful that our traditional male dancers will occasionally stand in them for some songs to protect the dancers during a particular song. The arena director will ask you nicely to move.


pow wow north bay

This is the arbour in the middle of the dance field – photo credit: Jen Bolton Photography



Honoring Tradition:

Central to the pow-wow experience is the Grand Entry, scheduled for noon on both days. Here, the Eagle Staffs, representing various groups and communities, lead the procession, accompanied by speeches from local dignitaries and Elders. A special honor song for Veterans invites participation, emphasizing the inclusive and respectful atmosphere of the event.


The dancers wear regalia while they are dancing, not “costumes.” Please don’t touch any regalia without the permission of its wearer. There are many kinds of regalia, and at the pow-wow is your opportunity to learn about many of them.


indigenous regalia

photo credit: Lindsay Sarazin – Wolf Eye Productions

The tipis and sacred fire

Inside one tipi is a sacred fire burning, and please respect the fire. Our fire starts at sunrise on Saturday with a ceremony (everyone is welcome), and burns until the end of the event Sunday, under the constant supervision of the firekeepers. While in there, you can smudge with sage; a firekeeper can help you learn how. The fire is for medicines only and is like a direct line with the spirit world and our ancestors. No garbage or waste is put in the fire, or pictures are taken of the fire.  Again, this is a time to take a special moment to be present and perhaps put an offering in the fire. Our Medicines (sage, cedar, sweetgrass and tobacco) are available to do so.


Browse the vendor’s booths

When buying from the artisans, you support Indigenous families and their communities. Many of our artisans carry a great deal of cultural knowledge and specialized skill in making items. This year we have over 50 booths, so there will be plenty to choose from. If you’ve ever wondered if something is genuinely indigenous, look no further!


pow-wow north bay

Don’t forget to check out the 50+ vendors at the Pow-wow – photo credit: Jen Bolton Photography

Taking Pictures

Pow-Wows are a visual dream when it comes to taking pictures; the colours and movement are like nothing else. Please listen to the MC, as there are certain times when you will be asked to put your camera away, like during Grand Entry or a particular song. Take that time to be in the moment and be with everyone around you. It’s often a powerful moment, that can’t be described in words. As to taking pictures of dancers when they are not in the dance circle, please be sure to ask first. Most people are happy to!


photo credit: Lindsay Sarazin – Wolf Eye Productions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

A Pow Wow is a spiritual experience for those dancing and drumming, but you may not fully understand what’s happening if you’re new to these events. If you have any questions, just ask!


Plan Your Visit:

Whether you’re a local or visiting from out of town, the Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow offers an unforgettable experience for all ages. With no admission fee, attendees are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs ,refillable water bottles, and sunscreen for a day of celebration and connection. As well local hotels are offering discount codes, so be sure to take advantage of them!

pow-wow north bay

Bring your own water bottle and take advantage our refilling stations – photo credit: Jen Bolton Photography

Accessibility and Amenities:

Located at Lee Park, the pow-wow offers a central venue for festivities. For those needing transportation, a free shuttle service from Northgate Square ensures easy access. Additionally, amenities such as a water truck for water bottle refills and nearby beach access add to the convenience and enjoyment of the day.

From the lively dances to the rich cultural exchange, it’s an event that embodies the spirit of togetherness and mutual respect. Don’t miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in Indigenous traditions and create lasting memories in one of North’s most beautiful settings.

Community Guidelines:

To maintain the cultural integrity of the pow-wow, attendees are reminded to refrain from bringing alcohol or drugs onto the premises. Additionally, while furry friends are cherished, it’s best to keep them at home or away from the pow-wow grounds. The MC usually takes the time during the day to explain why this is, so be sure to keep an ear out, its an important thing to understand.

no pets at pow-wow



So come on out, bring your family, and take in the sights and sounds at Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-wow! For more Indigenous experience to discover in North Bay click here!

About Sandra Thorkelson

Sandra is Marten Clan, Ojibwe/Algonquin/European connected to the Nbisiing and Pikwakanagan Nations, Communications Coordinator for the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre (NBIFC)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!