GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. — It will only be in its third year, but organizers of the annual Mawio’mi in Grand Falls-Windsor will be looking for a bigger space to host the event next summer.
“It’s been amazing,” said Mawio’mi committee coordinator Charlene Combdon. “We’ve seen double the visitors, double the vendors, it’s just been awesome. It means our community is engaging and accepting our cultural revival.”
Over 100 people turned out for the second annual Mawio’mi at Gorge Park West on June 23, though there were also events held the preceding and following day at several locations. Next year, Combdon said they will likely be looking for somewhere bigger to host the main events.
Organized by the Exploits Aboriginal Community Group, activities ranged from sweat lodge ceremonies to medicine walks and talking circles, as well as dancing and music. Indeed, dancers, vendors, and elders came from across the island to participate, something Combdon said was an important indicator.
“It means we’re growing, not only locally, but provincially, and we’re being recognized,” she said.
Elder Victor Muise said he too was pleased to see the event growing.
“Every year it’s going to grow,” he told The Advertiser. “Mawio’mi is a gathering for all people; Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, everybody.”
While the day was largely given over to celebration, there were moments of solemnity when the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada were remembered. Red dresses were hung from the boughs of a pine tree and rocks that had been painted to help remember those women were placed on the bank near the arbor.
Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell said closing out the week surrounding Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada with the Mawio’mi was appropriate.
“It’s a time to acknowledge the contributions of Indigenous people across Canada,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of history and culture here, from Beothuk to Mi’kmaq, and to be here on land that they would have walked on and lived on… that’s important.”