An indigenous student receives his scarf during the annual traditional graduation Pow Wow.

Virtual Indigenous Graduation Celebration 2021

Please note: Arrangements will be made to mail graduation scarves to Indigenous graduates before June Convocation. Participants will be contacted after May 8.

Information for graduates

The 2021 Annual Traditional Graduation Pow Wow is cancelled due to COVID-19. A virtual celebration was held and can be viewed on the Indigenous Student Centre Facebook page on May 8th. The information below is not applicable until we can safely gather again. 

All Canadian Indigenous graduates (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) are encouraged to participate in the Annual Traditional Grad Pow Wow so we can honour you for successfully completing your post-secondary program.

To be eligible for the annual Pow Wow, you must be graduating or have already graduated during the current school year (in October, February or May).

Graduates are invited to participate in the whole day, beginning with the Pipe Ceremony at 11 a.m. For Grand Entry, please ensure that you arrive at before 10:30 a.m. and register your name at the appropriate desk.

Information for guests and visitors

Thank you for coming to celebrate the success of our Indigenous graduates! You are invited to attend all parts of the day.

Please arrive before 11 a.m. so that you can be seated before the start of the ceremony. Women are asked to wear long skirts to honour the teachings of this ceremony, which may last up to an hour.

Please note: All visitors, community members and other UM graduates are asked to enter the Investors Group Athletic Centre gymnasium via the stairs/elevator to the third floor.

After the Pipe Ceremony, guests will be asked to return to their seats in the visitors' area as preparations begin for the dancers and singers.

For the rest of the day, you are encouraged to watch the beautiful and different types of Pow Wow dances, visit the craft tables on the third floor, and attend the community feast during the honouring of the graduates at 3 p.m. This year the feast will be served in Investors Group Athletic Centre.

Please note that there are various times throughout the day when visitors are encouraged to come down to the Pow Wow floor. These may include: shaking hands with the graduates after they have received their certificates, Intertribal Dances and Specials like the Potato Dance. The emcee will explain and announce these opportunities.

If you have any questions throughout the day, please look for volunteers wearing black t-shirts or staff/security helpers.

Information for VIPs and Honoured Guests participating in Grand Entry

We thank you for your participation in this celebration. For Grand Entry, please ensure that you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start time and register your name at the appropriate desk in the Investors Group Athletic Centre.

A Grand Entry is a procession of community flags, Indigenous veterans, VIPs from both the campus and wider community who have contributed in some way to the success of the graduates, and of course, the graduates themselves.

For Grand Entry, you will be directed to your position by the Arena Director or by Indigenous Student Centre staff. Tobacco will be presented to you in appreciation of your participation of the day's events. You will be acknowledged by the community for your support. After the Grand Entry, you may place the tobacco on a drum of your choice or you may place the tobacco in a bowl provided at the front of the stage.

Indigenous Graduation Scarves

The original idea for the scarf (or stole) came from Indigenous alumnus Dene Beaudry [BA/14] in his graduating year. He envisioned a physical and visual item that would distinguish and highlight First Nation, Métis and Inuit graduates as Indigenous peoples. Following consultation with our Indigenous staff, students and faculty, the idea of the scarf was born.

  • The scarf design

    Designers created a template based on specific colours and symbols meaningful to both Indigenous people in general and to Indigenous students at UM.

    The scarf’s main colour is purple, which represents balance. In traditional teachings, women are represented by blue (the colour of water) and men are represented by red (the colour of fire). By combining the two, we find a balance. The yellow, red, white and blue ribbons represent the official colours of Migizii Agamik—Bald Eagle Lodge, as determined through a traditional naming ceremony led by Elder Charlie Nelson.

    Please note: because of COVID-19 restrictions, scarves will be distributed to Indigenous graduates when the university reopens.

  • A table full of folded purple indigenous graduation scarfs.

Debuting the scarves

Scarves were gifted to all Indigenous graduates who attended the Pow Wow in May 2014, as well as to Indigenous alumni in attendance. They have since become a treasured symbol of pride and honour within the Indigenous community, representing the foundation of culture and the achievement and success of our students. In 2016, they became recognized as part of official academic dress.

How to get your scarves

Scarves are presented at the Annual Traditional Pow Wow to Indigenous students who self-identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. Students are encouraged to wear their scarves at their UM convocation.

If you are unable to attend the Pow Wow but would like a scarf to wear for convocation, a scarf can be picked up in person at convocation from one of two locations:

  1. Max Bell Centre (Fort Garry campus) convocation floor – Indigenous Student Centre table 
  2. Ongomiizwin Education Room S206 in Medical Services Building at 750 Bannatyne Avenue (Bannatyne campus)

If you received a scarf at Pow Wow but forgot to bring it to convocation, you can borrow one by leaving a piece of government-issued ID or a $50 deposit at the Indigenous Student Centre table. Scarves must be returned immediately following your ceremony.

Scarves are meant to be worn at the Annual Traditional Graduation Pow Wow and at convocation as a visual symbol of cultural acknowledgement. They will not be mailed to students or given out after convocation.


Nominate a staff member for the Migizii Award

Is there a staff member who was an exceptional help to you throughout your degree? The Migizii Award celebrates a university staff or faculty member (Indigenous or non-Indigenous) who went above and beyond for you or other Indigenous students during your post-secondary journey.

Volunteering for Pow Wow

All students are invited to volunteer during the Graduation Pow Wow. Volunteers act as ushers, answer Pow Wow attendees' questions and help the Indigenous Student Centre team make the day go smoothly

Information for vendors

We offer space on a first-come, first-served basis for craft vendors at Pow Wow. Registration begins at 9 a.m. on the main floor of the Investors Group Athletic Centre on the day of the event (through main entrance). The cost to participate is $50 per table and payment must be made in cash only.

Please note that security is not available in the vendor area and we are not responsible for vendor belongings.

Pow Wow FAQ

What should I wear?

There is no dress code for audience members; however, please dress modestly. For example, don’t wear a bathing suit or a t-shirt with curse words on it. Comfortable footwear is recommended. If you are wearing a hat, please remove it during the Grand Entry, Invocation, Honour, Memorial, Flag, Veterans, and Closing Songs.

This is my first Pow Wow. Do I have to sign up?

Welcome to your first Pow Wow! No sign-up or registration is required – you can just come.

Who are the key people at a Pow Wow?

The Arena Director is responsible for coordinating the dancers, drum groups and special guests who take part in special events and ceremonies at the Pow Wow.

The Master of Ceremony (or Emcee) is responsible for announcing the events and guiding the Pow Wow. He/she keeps the order of the drum groups, explains the dances and protocols, tells jokes and announces events.

And of course, the Graduation Pow Wow exists to honour the Indigenous graduates. Please help us congratulate them on their successes and wish them well.

We have many volunteers who can help answer questions. Look for the black t-shirts that say “Volunteer.”

What are the different kinds of dances?

At Graduation Pow Wow you will see the Men’s Fancy Dress, Women’s Fancy Shawl, Men’s Traditional Dance, Women’s Traditional Dance, Jingle Dress, Grass Dance, Hoop Dance and Red River Jig.

Later in the day everyone will be invited to find a partner and join in the fun of the potato dance!

Can anybody participate in the dancing?

If someone asks you to dance, you may do so. The Master of Ceremony will invite the audience to the dance area during Intertribal songs, Honour songs and Métis specials.

The regalia are beautiful – am I allowed to touch them?

No, please don’t touch anyone’s regalia, or their hair/braids. These are all sacred and personal.

Am I allowed to come for just part of the day?

Yes! You are welcome to come and go at any time during the day. Please check the schedule to be sure you are present for any specific events that are important to you.

How do I get to the feast?

The feast is taking place inside Investors Group Athletic Centre on the floor behind the stage. Please allow for Elders to be served first.

Can I take pictures?

Yes. However, do not take pictures during prayers or when the Master of Ceremonies has said not to. If you are taking pictures of dancers in regalia, it is always good to ask first.

Are there any other rules I should be aware of?

No drinking or drug use is allowed at Pow Wow. Please remember that the dance area is sacred, so refrain from swearing and other negative behaviour.

Selling crafts in the stands is prohibited at the Annual Traditional Graduation Pow Wow.

The chairs on the main floor are reserved for singers and dancers.

Please help us keep the ceremony building clean. Put all garbage and recycling in the appropriate bins.

Contact us

Contact a Traditional Graduation Pow Wow planning committee member at:

Migizii Agamik – Bald Eagle Lodge
114 Sidney Smith St.
University of Manitoba (Fort Garry campus)
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 Canada