The 32nd edition of Pemmican Days breaks an attendance record


By Kirsta Lindstrom

Journalist of the Local Journalism Initiative

MOBERLY LAKE, BC – The first Saulteau First Nations Pemmican Days in three years has broken its attendance record, according to community leaders.

Elder Buddy Napolean, who co-created the first Pemmican Days, was overwhelmed by last weekend’s turnout.

“When we started Pemmican Days only a few families came, and it was a one day event. It makes me so happy to see all the families here as well as all our brothers and sisters from other nations,” Napoleon said.

“I was afraid for a while that it wouldn’t happen again. We had to close it for three years because of the Covid. But, here we are, bigger and better than ever.

Saulteau adviser Rudy Paquette echoed Napoleon’s sentiments.

“That was by far the best turnout for Pemmican Days, and next year will be even bigger.”

The celebration began Thursday with a round dance for the community and a performance by 2022 Juno Award winner Fawn Wood, whose signature song, “Remember Me,” took Indigenous country music by storm.

Later, a party was held to bring the community together to mourn and celebrate the life of Saulteau eldest, Virginia Lalonde.

A parade led the way to Pemmican Grounds to officially launch the annual event on Friday. It was followed by a grand entrance featuring the Saulteau powwow dancers and a welcome speech by Chief Justin Napolean and Council.

The sound of steel horseshoe drums and ringing was heard throughout the First Nation as pugeesee (hand games) and horseshoe tournaments began.

The evening ended with a welcome dinner in the band room, where people enjoyed traditional foods such as moose stew, bannock and elk ribs.

Saturday was a blur of activity, sightseeing and competition.

One of the highlights for the kids was the 10th Annual Leanne Howes Memorial Bike Contest. No less than 59 bikes were won by very happy young people who were smiling from ear to ear.

A jigging contest and Saulteaus Got Talent took over Saturday night.

Rick Ghostkeeper took first place in the adult category with a haunting rendition of Harley Davis’ “Grampa Take Your Drum Down.”

The weather continued to hold on Sunday as Creator blessed the event with another beautiful day in Saulteau First Nations for the exhilarating Endurance Race, which culminates in a horse race to the finish line .

Other crowd favorites, such as the leg wrestling competition and the tug of war competition, captivated spectators young and old.

The cured meat department was busy throughout the weekend, as was Pauline Heiberts’ famous Bannock Shack. Several vendors set up shop at the event, including Indigenous Craftsmen and the Kids Free Play Zone, with their bouncy castles and carnival rides.

There were many visitors from home and abroad, including Fort St. John’s own mayor, Lori Ackerman, who enjoyed watching the tea boiling competition and hand games.

The weekend ended with hilarious moose and cow calls, a 50/50 draw for $1,000 and door prize draws.

Everyone left tired, satiated, happy and was already talking about meeting again next year.

Kirsta Lindstrom is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works for ENERGETICCITY.CA. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive funding from the LJI government.

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