As usual I will quote the text and add my comments after the cut:
When I was a kid here on the North Shore, my dad would take me to the Pow Wow down on the reserve. It was always fun and full of activity, and the drumming seemed to go from the air to the ground, up through my feet and right to my soul. We would eat bannock and smoked salmon, and Dad would talk to the elders—many of whom he knew quite well. For many years, he owned a small watch repair shop on Lower Lonsdale, and after awhile he began to buy local crafts and carvings from the artists on the reserve. This meant long chats over cups of coffee. Dad was well liked; he gave a fair price and often told an artist to charge more! Some of these treasures he sold, but many he kept and he left them to me when he died.
My comment: There are a few problems with this story.
First problem: I am not sure about the existence of commercial powwows in the 1950s when Lynn would have been a kid. Quoting from this website:
By the 1980s the Powwow had become extremely popular and even commercial. In some cases it became a great show for both the Native and Non-Native crowd.
My internet searching for powwows in the 1950s came up with nothing and not only that, but the event that Lynn is about describe is called the Squamish Nation 30th Annual Youth Powwow. 30 years means this one only goes back to 1988. While it is possible there may have been powwows in Vancouver in the 1950s, I can’t find any history of it.
Second problem: “small watch repair shop”. This is the first time I have ever heard of Mervyn Ridgway’s business referred to this way by Lynn. Lynn is going a little extra humble here with her father. This Lynn’s Notes is a more typical Lynn description:
Friday June 10, 2011 Lynn's Notes:
My folks had a jewelry store. They carried china, glassware and other gift items as well.
Considering that Lynn is talking about her dad selling First Nations crafts at his store, this description makes a little more sense, except that it doesn’t and leads us to...
Third problem: When would this happen? Mervyn’s store ran Monday to Saturday, so when would he have the time to go to a powwow and negotiate prices over First Nations crafts? How would First Nations crafts fit in an upscale, family-owned jewelry store in North Vancouver? Why would Mervyn go to the powwow with just Lynn and not with his son and wife too? Why would Mervyn tell a person to charge more for their item when he was the one who was having to pay for them to sell in his shop?
My conclusion: There is so much wrong with this part of the story I am going to discount the whole thing as untrue. Lynn is trying to tie her father to going to a powwow with her granddaughter and it just doesn’t work.
Years later, when I was living in Northern Ontario, I’d go to the annual Pow Wow, which was held in September. The Anishinabek Pow Wow grounds on Lake Nipissing (just outside North Bay, Ontario) is a beautiful treed sanctuary. It’s been a peaceful and protected space for a very long time, and when it’s transformed into this annual celebration, it is a colourful, welcoming and exciting place to be. When I left the area, I knew it was a place and a tradition I was going to miss.
I wonder why Lynn isn’t saying it was the Nippissing First Nation powwow, which is the actual name and the one she uses on her website.
According to their website, this year is their 29th annual powwow for the Nippissing First Nation, so this has been around since 1989. Katie could have gone as early as when she was 12. Lynn is trying to play this up as if she went all the time. Lynn did go at least one time to research her Mtigwaki powpow strips and she put pictures of the event on her website. If she went more than this, I do not know.
2005-09-28 to 2005-10-07 were her 2 weeks of the Mtigwaki powwow in her comic strip. I consider the powwow strips to be one of the highlights of this comic strip during its latter years. On this board at the time they were published, the comments lit up with praise for Lynn and her artistry and the story-telling. It was an indication of the kind of artist that Lynn could be. You can see her fine detail work in this strip:
It is interesting that she only mentions the Nippissing First Nation Pow Wow, because she had a definite connection with First Nations tribes before she moved to Corbeil. After all, she mention in her Lynn’s Notes:
Friday February 21, 2014 Lynn’s Notes:
Here’s a story for you: The province of Manitoba had just decreed that people trained as dental nurses would be licensed to do check-ups, cleanings, small fillings, and extractions on children. Rod’s dental practice had expanded to include three First Nations villages, and he needed someone to offset the load.
Yes, back in Lynn Lake, Lynn’s husband was servicing 3 First Nations villages. All things considered, you would think Lynn would have gone to a powwow. However, to be fair to Lynn as I pointed out above, the powpows did not become really popular until the 1980s and none of the powwows Lynn has attended existed when Lynn was living in Lynn Lake.
Last week, I saw a notice for the local Squamish Nation Pow Wow, and I thought it would be a good idea to take my 5 year old granddaughter. She loves to dance and sing, and if my dad had been here, he’d have said it was time.
My comment: Oy! Time. A watch joke for Mervyn the watch repairman. This story raises a few questions like: Why didn’t Lynn take her grandson? Who else is with them because you know that Lynn can’t drive to West Vancouver? Plus, is the reason you take a grandkid to a powwow because they can sing and dance? “I think she has a future in showbiz. Let’s take her to a powwow.”
The North Vancouver Pow Wow is held in an open field not far from the base of the Lion’s Gate Bridge. On one side of the field, there is a long, wooden lodge building and several large totem poles stand nearby. The Pow Wow was to last 3 days. I chose to take Laura on Saturday, and we arrived at 6:00pm in time to grab a burger and look around before the dancers’ grand entrance at 7:00. I told Laura to look for something special as we walked around the many craft tables set in a large circle around the field. I also wanted to go where the dancers were sitting, so I could meet them and have an up close look at their regalia. When they are in motion, they are a whirling flash of colour and it’s hard to appreciate the wonderful craftsmanship that goes into each outfit. I also like to watch the drummers as they hit the drums hard and sing in unison.
Here is the press from the link on Lynn's website:
FAMILY EVENT – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC-EVERYONE WELCOME. Squamish Nation 30th Annual Youth Powwow, July 7-9, start times: Friday 7pm, Saturday 1pm & 7pm, Sunday 1pm, Admission $5.00, Kids under 5 & Pensioners FREE..Aboriginal Dance Competition, Salmon BBQ, Aboriginal Arts & Crafts, Concession offers Indian Taco, Salmon BBQ, Bannock etc. NO BLEACHERS, please bring own lawn chair. Pow Wow Location: Capilano Reserve Park: 100 Mathias Road, West Vancouver, BC
My comment: Most of Lynn’s details fit this one. The Capilano Reserve Park is in fact near the Lion’s Gate Bridge. However, the announcement says, “no bleachers” and in the text coming up, Lynn is going to talk about going up into stands, which apparently should not exist.
Laura found a beaded hair ornament in one of the craft tents, and after some more looking around, we decided to go back and buy it. The man in the tent was dressed in an outstanding traditional robe of wolf skin—the head of which was mounted over his own. His face was painted, and in any other encounter, he would have looked quite fierce, but he smiled at Laura, told her the hair ornament would be two dollars and handed it to her with a grandfatherly gesture that made us both smile.
My comment: Someone took a picture of Laura with the wolf skin man. I think the general rule-of-thumb should be: Don’t exaggerate a story so much that doesn’t match your picture. Sorry, but I do not see any paint on his face unless it is under that wolf head. Lynn is also going with “grandfatherly” and the guy looks middle-aged at best. At least in the picture you can see the hair ornament on Laura’s head, so she didn’t decide to fudge that one.
With some fanfare, the grand entrance was announced. Dancers of all ages and in all manner of traditional dress lined up at the entrance and prepared to parade into the centre of the field. The drumming and singing began, and Laura wanted to get into a place where she could best see what was going on. Elders were introduced followed by mothers and children. Then warriors and visitors whirled in a mass of colour into the centre of the field. Some of the dancers were from Ontario, and I wondered if I’d recognize anyone I knew. There were women and girls in jingle dresses, grass dancers, ribbon dresses, amazingly ornate beaded robes, and the some of the most spectacular and colourful feathered regalia I have ever seen. After elders had spoken and announcements were made, the dancing truly began.
My comment: Lynn is right on the mark here.
Here is the Squamish chief from a different source on the same event:
Here are some of the outfits and they are gorgeous.
I wondered how long Laura would want to stay and watch the festivities. I could watch all night! After awhile, I asked if she’d like to get down from the stands and see if we could get a closer look. People were kind and we made our way to the side of the circle where we could see the dancers up close as they moved clockwise to the drums. Laura began to sway with the rhythm, and when it was announced that anyone who wanted to join the dancers was welcome to do so, Laura’s eyes lit up. Like someone preparing to jump into skipping ropes, I watched her get up her courage, set her pace and go. She ran right to the man in the wolf robe and danced along with him. Laura whirled around the circle twice, and when the drums paused, she ran back to me happy, smiling and completely out of breath. “I know some of the kids!” she said, “they go to my school!” At Ridgeway Elementary School, First Nations teachers talk to the children about history and drumming and traditional dress. Laura is learning about hunting, fishing, healing plants and some of the things that happened when the settlers came. She has even learned a little about residential schools. Taking her to the Pow Wow wasn’t an introduction, it was adding to something about which she already knew. Maybe my dad has returned in the spirit of my granddaughter. It’s possible! He certainly resides in me.
My comment: And there Lynn tries to tie her dad to her and Laura at the powwow grounds. As I pointed out before there are no bleachers, so who knows what Lynn is thinking about when she says “stands”. You can see in the picture there are lawn chairs and people standing behind them. Maybe that's what she meant. Lynn is trying to play this as a “It was me and Laura and the ghost of my father alone and I was going to stay as long as Laura could stand it.” However, I know better because I have seen social media where it was clear the parents were there at events that Lynn’s writing tried to make it look like she was supergrandma handling her grandkids all by herself.
What we know for certain is that someone snapped a picture of Laura dancing only it’s not a great one since we can’t see Laura’s face. Nevertheless, she has grown a lot since I last saw a picture of her and she looks cute dancing.
Ridgeway Elementary School. Given that Laura born in November, 2011, she would have been attending kindergarten last year. “School age” is defined in the School Act as a person who has or will have attained the age of 5 years on or before December 31 of that school year. As for Ridgeway Elementary in particular, looking at it on the map, it is a 3 minute walk from Katie and Lynn’s house. I get a sense now of why they picked the house location they did. I am also a little amused that it is called Ridgeway and I impressed that Lynn did not write it as “Ridgway Elementary School”.
Seeing kids who go to her school. Is that going to be 5-year-old Laura’s takeaway from dancing at a powwow beside the wolf man? Doubtful. Ridgeway Elementary School is in North Vancouver, while the Squamish Nation is in West Vancouver and they have their own school called:
Xwemelch’stn Etsímxwawtxw, Capilano Littlest One’s School K4 – Grade 2
Nevertheless, I cannot discount the possibility. My kids went to school with some kids that could have gone to the Indian-Oasis Baboquivari Unified School District in Tucson, but it is an unfortunate fact that the school has a poor reputation academically, and their parents wanted them to go to a different school with a better reputation.
All in all, it’s good to read that Lynn is getting out of house and spending time with her granddaughter. She could have had a better story if she eliminated the whole part with her father, but Lynn has a long history now of telling stories about passing a legacy from her parents to her grandkids. However, each time she tells a story like that, it kind of spells out that Lynn is trying to make up for the parenting she did not do when she had her own young kids. It never seems to dawn on her the process is that she should pass the legacy from her parents to her own kids and then her own kids pass them to her grandkids, and then you get super prideful that your own kids picked up what you taught them and found it worthwhile enough to pass it on.
In other words, if going to a powwow was really a big deal between her father and Lynn, then she should have gone to the Nippissing First Nation powwow in North Bay with Katie and Aaron. For all we know, Katie did go to that powwow when she was growing up and that’s the reason why they went to this one. That would work with me, but not the "1950s powwows with father Mervyn" story.
Edited to add:
One of the people I met at the Pow Wow in North Vancouver was William Burnstick. The regalia he was wearing exemplifies the intricate and colourful bead and feather work seen at these annual celebrations. To see his work, go to www.WilliamBurnstick.com His artistry is outstanding!
My comment: The stuff is gorgeous and I had hoped to find this was the wolf head guy in the picture, but that is not the case. Without a story to go along with William Burnstick, this could have just as easily been a guy who left a card with Lynn.