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‘The river’s calling us home’ — anticipation builds for first powwow in Saint John

March 24, 2024

Indigenous people share what the area’s first official gathering will mean to them

A young woman with long, dark hair wearing a brown fur coat stands outside in front of a river.
Kateri Hibbert is from Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaq Nation in Nova Scotia. She says there is a large Indigenous population in the Saint John area. ‘Our ancestors are here. They haven’t gone anywhere and neither have we,’ she said. (Ann Paul/CBC)

This is part of a series called Ann’s Eye, featuring the work of Ann Paul, a Wolastoqey content creator. You can see more Ann’s Eye pieces by clicking here.

APTN News: The Saint John region will have its first official powwow this fall, and Indigenous people in the area are excited.

The 2024 Menahqesk powwow, which will be hosted by Wolastoqey and Mi’kmaw community members, will take place at the TD Station in October and feature food, dancing, drumming, vendors and singing. Organizers estimate the event will attract 10,000 visitors to the area. 

WATCH: The Saint John powwow will bring people together ‘in the place where it all began’:

What the first powwow in Saint John means to Indigenous peoples

1 day ago, Duration 3:01

This fall, the Indigenous community will have its first official powwow in Saint John. Ann Paul visited Fort La Tour, a place rich with history and the presence of the ancestors, to hear why this event is so important.

Click on the following link to view the video:

A group of Indigenous people spoke with CBC contributor Ann Paul about their excitement for the powwow.

Menahqesk is the Wolastoqey name for the area, meaning “where the sea takes the land.”

Kateri Hibbert of Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaq Nation in Nova Scotia said the water in the area is sacred, referencing the Reversing Falls that used to be used for vision quests.

“There’s a massive hunger here in Saint John. The river’s calling us home,” she said.

 Scroll through the photos and watch the video to find out more.

A man with a moustache and two long braids wearing a black cowboy hat sits on a cement bench. In the distance is a river and a bridge.
Connor McFarlane is from Flying Dust Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. He said a powwow is a big thing for Saint John. ‘This is the gathering place. There should be a powwow down here.’ (Ann Paul/CBC)
Four people stand in a line outside in a field of dead grass.
In the place where it all began: Kateri Hibbert; Cass Mclaughlin, who’s Inuvialuit, Connor McFarlane and Patti Bouchier, a Mi’kmaq Sixties Scoop survivor. (Ann Paul/CBC)
A painting standing on two wooden posts sits on a small hill overlooking a paved path.
There are small mounds throughout Place Fort La Tour in Saint John, where Kateri Hibbert says ancestors are buried. (Ann Paul/CBC)
Rocks piled together form an inukshuk.
Ann Paul came across this inukshuk while visiting Fort La Tour. (Ann Paul/CBC)
A man wearing a black cowboy hat and gray t-shirt stands outside with his back to the camera, looking out at a bridge over a river.
The 2024 Menahqesk powwow will be held at the TD Station, not far from Fort La Tour. (Ann Paul/CBC)

Ann’s Eye

Photographer Ann Paul brings an Indigenous lens to stories from First Nations communities across New Brunswick. Click here or on the image below to see more of her work. 

A graphic drawing shows an Indigenous woman holding a camera up to her eye.
(CBC News Graphics)