The drums call you in

Join the circle of the First Peoples’ House annual Round Dance

people in a round dance at the U of A

kahkiyaw niwâhkômâkanak.
tānisi kiya? In the deepest sense, how are you doing?
I hope you are acknowledging every breath of each and every day that you are gifted here on okâwîmâw askiy (Mother Earth). Take a deep breath, try to relax. Sometimes we need a gentle reminder to relax our shoulders and take a deep breath (breathing slowly through your nose as you fill your lungs then slowly exhale) so we can truly recentre ourselves. Find a spot just to be with me. I ask for just a moment, could you sit with me a little while I share a small âcimowin (story) with you?

There is an evening on campus where the spirit of equity, diversity and inclusion is wrapped up in a moment that can fill your whole heart. It is a space where people come together and interweave so delicately like every braid of grass along the Great Plains in such a beautiful way - from little ones to the old ones, from our local and distant Nations, diverse countries, the campus community, friends, family and all of our relations. It is mid-winter so if you can imagine it could be blizzarding outside but it would not matter anyway because the love and warmth of friendship fill the room - it actually bursts with sahkitin (love). 

The drums call you in.
The songs call you to dance.
The people moving together as one calls you in to join hands. 

This is where you can meet your new best friend, old friends, your lifetime partner, your “one night dance the night away with” partner, and more importantly, hear your favourite drummer sing the old songs that have been sung over generations. This is a time filled with excitement and joy. It's also a time to respect the sacredness of the circle. We invite people in but it is just as important to honour the sacred ceremony of the Round Dance.

Our relatives that join us that night are as far as the prairies can take us, up onto the tip tops of mountains, above the trees that have been growing before I was ever born to the loved ones that are amongst the stars. Our stories from our ancestors are ingrained into and spread across the Great Plains where they lived, loved and where they have been laid to rest. Our deep connection to one another is like the intersections of old dirt REZ roads to the highways and bi-ways of every territory. Our journeys intertwine on that night because your heart yearns for ceremony, to meet new friends or gather together with old friends, a place to bring your family, or simply because you want to support First Peoples’ House. It could be for many reasons but I hope the main reason is that your heart needed it. 

There will be moments throughout the night that I know very well - where there is a stillness amongst the stars and the heartbeat of the drum. It’s a moment where just for an instant life stands still and you are overwhelmed with all of the emotions of the year, the heaviness that we may carry of the loved ones we have lost along the way becomes all too consuming, it’s the love in the room that heals it all. 

The love I speak about, you know it, it's right there, you just have to be still. It’s not loud or overbearing. It's comforting and silent. It’s much like that warm night in late August in Alberta, the one where you are flinching a bit at the coming of winter because it means another year is gone and it's one more year without the loved ones you lost along your journey here on okâwîmâw askiy (Mother Earth). It’s a reminder that friendships are sacred. Death is sacred. Happiness is sacred. Life is sacred. Joy is sacred. Love is sacred. Time is sacred. The circle is sacred. 

I ask if you're free on February 3, 2024, to join the circle, along with me and the staff of First Peoples’ House to lift our spirits. This is a time to come together as one, so that as we journey here together it is moments like this that we find a place of peace, joy, understanding, and heartship (like friendship but a bit deeper than that).


Date: Feb. 3, 2024 |  Time: 6 - 11 p.m.

Doors open at 5 p.m.

Ceremony includes:

  • MCs: Eric Tootoosis, Adrian Lachance, Cornell Tootoosis
  • Stickman: Lyle Tootoosis and Colin Raine
  • Firekeeper: Kyson Morin

Download the poster


Shana Dion

About Shana

tānisi nitotemtik. shana dion, nitisiyihkâson. nêhiyaw iskwêwak. kehewin cree nation  niya ohci. Māka niwīkin amiskwaciwâskahikan. nohtawiy, George Dion, nikâwiy Arlene Dion ekwa nikosis Delton. It is important that I introduced myself in Cree because it grounds me in who I am, where I come from and who I am accountable to. As assistant dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in the Office of the Dean of Students, I am dedicated to supporting, guiding and delivering holistic support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners. I hope to leave behind a legacy that lets FNMI students know that I loved them in advance. 

As each of us moves through our journey at the U of A, I hope you lead with courage,  humility, kindness, openness, respect, and truly with love.