The University of Winnipeg



Honouring Indigenous grads and Red Dress Day at 2024 Graduation Pow Wow

A group of dancers hold feathers

Celebrating UWinnipeg Indigenous grads with a Pow Wow is an annual tradition now in its 19th year.

Once again, UWinnipeg will be honouring our Indigenous grads at the 19th annual Graduation Pow Wow on May 5, and this year’s event will be a bit different.

The Grad Pow Wow, which in previous years has been in March, will be held on Sunday, May 5. The move was made to coordinate with RRC Polytech and University of Manitoba to create a weekend of pow wows. 

It’s not easy for Indigenous people to navigate colonial systems, yet here we are, succeeding in systems that were never meant for us.

Sarah DeLaronde

A new addition this year is the Red Dress Special in honour of Red Dress Day (May 5), or the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S+). The Special will include ceremony to honour graduates who are family members of MMIWG2S+, and will be hosted by Giganawenimaanaanig (also known as the Manitoba MMIWG2S+ Coalition).

“We wanted to make sure that we were honouring that day,” said Aboriginal Student Services Center (ASSC) Coordinator, Sarah DeLaronde. “Recognizing that, for some of the graduates and attendees, those are their family members. We want to make sure that they feel the love on that day and that they feel seen.”

This year’s event will also have a memorial for Elder Calvin Pompana.

Elder Wakin ya Hosksida/Calvin Pompana (Thunder Boy) was a proud member of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, who joined ASSC in the winter of 2017 as one of the Elders in Residence.

Throughout his time with UWinnipeg he facilitated many cultural activities, including sweat lodge and pipe ceremonies, medicine picking, and sharing/healing circles. He provided numerous class lectures on a variety of subjects, including the Sun Dance and his Residential School experiences.

As someone who has attended two Graduation Pow Wows as a UWinnipeg grad, DeLaronde said this annual event is a way for communities to come together and for Indigenous people to take up space on campus.

“It’s not easy for Indigenous people to navigate colonial systems, yet here we are, succeeding in systems that were never meant for us,” she said. “We have the opportunity as Indigenous staff in ASSC to honour our graduates in a good way, and also to show other potential Indigenous students that they will be supported in the same way going forward.”

Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend all parts of the day, and no registration is required for general attendance. ASSC asks that attendees are respectful of the dancers and grads. Volunteers and staff will be on site to answer any questions.

The celebrations take place at Duckworth Centre, 400 Spence St., on May 5, starting with a Pipe Ceremony with Elder Dan Thomas and Grand Entry at 12:30 p.m. Grads will be honoured prior to any contests.

Registration for dancers and drummers opens at 10:00 a.m. Honorariums will be provided to all dancers. Honorariums will be provided to the first 10 drum groups, which is new for 2024.

Contests are for all ages, including Tiny Tots, Junior, Teens, Adult, and Golden Age categories. Dance categories will include Jingle, Traditional, Fancy Shawl, Traditional Bustle, and Grass/Chicken.

Craft vendors will also be set up at the event, and a community feast will be held at 5:00 p.m.

There is no cost to attend, and all are welcome. For more information visit the Graduation Pow Wow event page.


10:00 a.m. – Registration for dancers and drummers

11:00 a.m. – Pipe ceremony

12:30 p.m. – Grand entry

5:00 p.m. – Feast


Master of Ceremonies – Ray “Coco” Stevenson

Arena Director – Tyson Henry

Hosted by – UW Aboriginal Student Services Centre

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