Editorial Wednesday June 9th 2010
City Hall Denies Native Event Funding
Spirit of the People Pow-Wow organizers are on their own
Traditional sources of funds have all but dried up for community groups and City Hall, for instance, has rejected with regret requests from most non-profit community groups who have gone to council with hat in hand. Many small organizations are suffering and on the brink of collapse with out funding.
In April, City Hall denied Sto:lo Tourism's request to waive the $2500 rental fee for the Landing Sports Centre for their "Spirit of the People Pow Wow" event which takes place July 23-25 this year.
In a letter to the city, Kwis Hoy and Maxine Prevost, said that because of it's popularity, they started the pow -wow up again at Prospera Centre after a hiatus.
"Last year there were Chilliwack businesses that supported the event on a small scale, but this year it would be an honor to have the City support us in some degree. We are a spin-off of the Chilliwack Pow Wow that basically put Chilliwack on the map for many champion dancers throughout North America," the letter stated.
Powwow means “gathering or celebration.” Traditionally, pow-wows happened when families and friends were reunited in the spring after the long, harsh winters in the north when they were forced to uproot to find food. Over the years, the events have grown in size and the pow-wow in Chilliwack is one of the largest of it's kind in North America.
The Spirit of the People Pow Wow began in 1991 by a group of students who wanted to share their culture with other people in the community and since it's inception an estimated 80,000 people have walked through it's doors. The last event had 15,000 champion dancers from across North America.
The revived Chilliwack event is a native cultural Mecca of food and dance that showcases traditional values of the Sto:lo people. The event features drumming contests that will be paying more than $77,000 in cash prizes to the best drummers in a number of categories. The pow-wow also sells sponsorship packages that range up to and above $10,000 each.
A reliable source told the Voice that the cash prizes are made up of donations.
If Prospera Centre is filled to capacity, then 5700 tickets at $10 each would generate in the area of $570,000. Organizers expect 15,000 to attend. Then there are the other cash-generating things like the sales of vendor locations, plus food and craft sales which would push that number far higher.
The question is; Why would the Spirit of the People group be asking taxpayers to foot the Sports Centre rental bill when the event generates tens of thousands of dollars for Sto:lo Tourism coffers?
In an effort to find out why, the Voice asked Sto:lo organizer Maxine Prevost in an e-mail her take on it. However more than two-weeks have passed and Sto:lo still has not responded to e-mails.
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