The third Dalhousie Mawio’mi, the Mi’kmaq word for gathering, was held Tuesday, Oct. 2. It included the grand entry, the raising of the flag, speeches, food, and, of course, dances.
Out on the grass of the Dal quad, the drums pounded as the dancers, with and without regalia, showcased their great talent and celebrated together.
During breaks in the festivities, the dancers were happy to answer any questions about their regalia, the dances, or the Mawio’mi culture. Many of the dances were intertribal; everyone was welcome to participate. Others dances were more specific: grass dance, women’s traditional, men’s traditional, jingle dress dance, fancy shawl dance and more.
Each dance has regalia associated with it, and a particular origin. Jingle dress dancer Emerald Wells explained that her dance is one of healing and prayer for others. It is performed by women and girls and named for the conical metal jingles attached to the dress. A gift of tobacco may be given to the dancer by someone wishing her to pray for the health of a particular person.
Marrinna Wells, whose specialty is the women’s traditional, added that her own regalia is a little different than the usual one worn for this dance. She wore a yoke rather than a shawl, though either one can be used.
Both dancers have been coming to the Dal Mawio’mi for three years—as long as it has existed.
The Dal Mawio’mi has changed in those three short years. In its first incarnation, Wells recalled, it was small, indoors, with only one drum and a few participants. Now it is outside and, judging by the number of people who gathered around to watch or dance, quite popular. While not as big as many others around the Maritimes—which usually last a couple of days—it has grown in the time since it was first held at the school.