FREDERICTON (GNB) – Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jake Stewart is encouraging New Brunswickers to join First Nations communities that are hosting a series of powwows around the province.

“First Nations culture is embedded in our province’s history,” said Stewart. “Powwows offer an opportunity to learn about the contributions and identity of First Nations in New Brunswick.”

Powwows are community gatherings that welcome all people together in friendship, celebrating First Nations cultural traditions through music, dance, art and feasts.

The University of New Brunswick started this year’s powwow series on April 4.

“Each powwow officially opens with a grand entry, where dignitaries, elders and dancers enter the sacred circle,” said Tiffany Plain, jingle dress dancer. “During a powwow, dancers dressed in regalia connect to Mother Earth through the drumming sound of a heartbeat that pulls them around a sacred circle symbolizing the cycle of life.”

In addition to performances and ceremonies, powwows feature food vendors and artisans offering unique artwork and crafts.

“Powwows provide a great economic opportunity for First Nation communities and entrepreneurs,” said artist and business owner Heidi Simon. “We encourage everyone to come out and support artisans and vendors, and to buy local.”

St. Mary’s First Nation will host the first community powwow June 14-16.

“Our community welcomes and invites all members of the public to attend our 20th anniversary powwow, which is held along the beautiful Wolastoq,” said Chief Alan Polchies Jr. “This great day of sharing includes a craft and artisan marketplace, food vendors, ceremonies, local Indigenous performers and much more.”

The 7th Fisherman’s Powwow takes place in Miramichi from June 30 to July 1.

“The Fisherman’s Powwow is about bringing people and cultures together as one,” said Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Roger Augustine. “We are showing that peace is possible in our communities, our province and around the world.”

A complete schedule of powwows being held in the province is available online.