For the second year in a row organizers have called off the Kamloopa Powwow.
The event is cancelled for 2021 as Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is still in a state of emergency due to COVID-19 and in a time of mourning over the discovery of what it believed to be about 200 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The Kamloopa Powwow Society (KPS) and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc confirmed the decision in a press release, noting “it is not the right time for a celebration” as the community mourns the missing children and COVID-19 continues to suspend facility bookings, including the special events facility that hosts the powwow.
“During these difficult times, we kindly send our thoughts and prayers for Le Estwéý, the TTeS community and the many First Nations communities impacted by the recent findings,” KPS president Delyla Daniels said in the release. “By cancelling our event, the KPS respects that the community is grieving and considers the health and safety of all people.”
Tk’emlups Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir told KTW there were concerns with the wildfire activity in the area and with COVID-19, noting the band does not know the exact number of members who received the vaccine, only that a majority have been inoculated.
“We know that we have not lost anyone to COVID within TTeS,” Casimir said, adding that band members on the reserve have been diligent of minding their household bubbles and wearing masks. “Our numbers have basically dropped, I don’t even think we have any COIVD here at all and we haven’t for some time.”
The annual Kamloopa Powwow, normally held over the B.C. Day August long weekend, attracts more than 1,000 dancers and spectators to Kamloops and is one of the largest celebrations of First Nations’ culture and heritage in Western Canada.
The event was cancelled last year due to physical distancing requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic.
The cancellation of the 2021 event comes at a time when current restrictions would likely allow for the powwow to be staged.
Under Step 3 of B.C.’s reopening plans, which B.C. is currently in until Sept. 7, fairs and festivals are allowed to return to normal operations at full capacity with a communicable disease plan in place.