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Round Dance: Aboriginal student event invites everyone into the circle

Cathy Dobson Powwows have been held at Lambton College for years as a way for native students to share their traditions and culture.
Amy Day, left, and White Lightning Clark, members of the Aboriginal Students’ Council at Lambton College, prepare for an upcoming Round Dance the entire Sarnia community is invited to attend. Submitted Photo

Cathy Dobson

Powwows have been held at Lambton College for years as a way for native students to share their traditions and culture.

But the president of the Aboriginal Students’ Council wanted to add another major cultural event and involve the community beyond the college.

So White Lightning Clark, a 22-year-old police foundations student, appealed to Sarnia’s Awesome Foundation for funding to hold a Round Dance.

Lambton students recently attended a ‘pitch party’ and won over judges at the Awesome Foundation with Clark’s idea. As a result, the Foundation is contributing $1,000 toward the cost of Lambton’s first Round Dance on Jan. 30.

An aboriginal Round Dance is more casual than a powwow and involves a roster of singers and invites everyone to participate in the dance.

“It’s a social event where people can meet each other, listen to powerful songs and learn new things,” said Clark.

He’s been a singer/drummer at various Round Dances before. They are a significant cultural event for the aboriginal community and a good way to celebrate diversity at the college, he said.

Singers perform inside a large circle of dancers, Clark explained.

“The dance is open to all students, their families and the local community. Anyone who doesn’t know how to do it can follow the ones who do.

“It’s a simple side shuffle that anyone can learn.”

Cree Plains people originated the Round Dance as a spiritual healing ceremony. Over many years, the tradition was shared with tribes throughout North America and evolved into a more social event.

“It was passed on everywhere and has flourished,” Clark said.

Jane Manning, of the college’s aboriginal cultural and learning centre, said a Round Dance does more than reflect aboriginal traditions.

“It’s a terrific learning opportunity. When someone shares their culture, it opens the door for others to do the same,” she said.

About 160 aboriginal students study full-time at Lambton College. Most are from the three Sarnia-Lambton First Nations while others are Metis and Inuit.


WHAT: Traditional Round Dance hosted by the Aboriginal Students’ Council at Lambton College.

WHO: Open to the general public, of all ages

WHERE: Ballroom of Lambton College’s Residence and Event Centre.

COST: It’s free.

WHEN: Friday, Jan. 30, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.


Local author Audrey Stringer will hold a book launch and signing on Saturday, Jan. 17 at The Book Keeper on Exmouth Street.

Starting at 1 p.m. Stringer will sign copies of “Buddy’s Life Lessons: My Paw Prints on Grief and Loss.”

The book is described as 139 days in the life of a beloved pet, a gentle story with lessons quietly slipped in.

 The Arts Journal appears weekly to highlight cultural events in our community. If you have a story idea, contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.