Canada’s Oldest Culture: Western Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples

Canada's First Nation's People - True Canadian Culture

Canada’s First Nation’s People – True Canadian Culture


One of the most prominent things you’ll notice as you travel in Saskatchewan and Canada is its rich Aboriginal culture. Having lived on the continent for more than 12 000 years their stories and dances aren’t just entertainment. These dances and songs have been performed for thousands of years and tell of the world’s creation.


Aboriginal dance is one of the most well known examples of this rich culture. Amazing, brightly colored costumes are generally handmade and decorated with quills, beads, and other religious and sparkling symbols in a traditional fashion. Although slightly different from the original costumes, the time and care put into each one is truly stunning. Some of these costumes can weigh more than 100 pounds when complete. Traditional dances include the round dance and several native dances and competitions throughout the season often called the Powwow Circuit from May to September. These are massive celebrations and frequently have large cash prizes.


Aboriginal art is unique to each band and reflects the nature and daily activities around them. Animal spirits, flowers, and hunting scenes are all common in traditional works. More modern art still has threads of their original culture, but display more of the artists soul and some even addresses modern issues. Beadwork, leather, and carvings are just a few of the items frequently made. Religious items such as medicine wheels and dream catchers are also popular cultural items.

Housing, Language, and Education

Many First Nations People do still live on reserves, but they do NOT live in teepees. Like others in Canada, they live in homes, in communities, and speak English or French. Traditional teepees are generally reserved for special festivities and informational purposes. First Nations People attend schools, some of which may include traditional teachings and stories. A majority of the history is passed from elders to children through story. Each tribe has its own language unique to their area.

First Nations People are not like they are portrayed in movies. They are real Canadians like everyone else you see in the country with the added benefit of a rich and colorful heritage. Take the opportunity to experience this genuine Canadian experience. You’ll be glad you did.

If you would like to learn and see more, visit the Virtual Aboriginal Trade Show

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You Know You’re From A Small Saskatchewan Prairie Town When…

Life in a Small Town

Life in a Small Town


Have you ever had one of those days where the true realization of your life comes at you in one of those head smacking moments? I’ve had one of those days and it ‘gots me ta tinkin’ about how living in a small town Saskatchewan is almost like living in your own little world.

I never truly appreciated the separate culture this little town had until my first time living in the ‘big city’ (slightly more than 700 000 people, but massive compared with the 2 500 that live here). Everyone dressed different, talked different, did funny things, and looked at me as if I was an alien. In truth, I was.

My little town is unlike anywhere else in the world. Unlike the big city, we have strange traditions. When you see someone on the street, your first instinct isn’t to look away or size up the other person. Nope we smile and wave. It is often accompanied by phrases such as ‘hi, how are you?” even if you’ve never seen that person in your life. Urban dwellers tend to look at you and attempt to figure out whether you have a mental condition or are just trying to get close enough to pick their pockets.

Spurs, cowboy, hats, and pickup trucks are almost like the town uniform. A majority of the time, there are dogs in the back of the truck, and after you live here for a few weeks, you will know their names, where they like to be rubbed, and know who they belong to. In the city, you learn very quickly NOT to pet the puppy.

I can walk down any street in town and many of the houses and vehicles will be sitting unlocked, windows down, and possibly even the keys in it. Now this is becoming less frequent with the influx of new people to town, but it is certainly not rare. On many occasions I’ve left to take something over to someone’s house to be told to just ‘open the door and set it on the kitchen table.’ In the city, I wouldn’t leave the apartment without at least one can of mace and I didn’t even go to get my laundry from down the hall without taking my keys.

Oh yeah, I also learned that when they advertise a one room apartment for rent in the city newspaper, they aren’t kidding. I wasn’t sure how to take that surprise. I thought the only thing ‘one room’ today were the old school houses that sit abandoned just outside of town.

I will admit that a part of me is homesick for the city lifestyle. Even though shopping isn’t my thing, I miss the opportunity to spend a night at the symphony or an afternoon ‘museum-hopping.’ I miss the chance to don a nice gown and dine out for the evening, or put on some party wear and go to see my favorite rock band.

When I begin thinking about how much I miss my life in the city, I think about what I missed while I was there. In my little town, I can walk down the street and recognize almost everyone I see. There is nothing more welcoming than that. When I looked at my small town, I realized that there is no other place in the world better to raise my son. He has the chance to learn about life on a smaller scale before being thrust into a swift moving world of strangers.

This being said, I have nothing against cities or city schools. I simply feel the support and love as well as the torment and heartaches I experienced here made me who I am and I would like to give my son those same opportunities – to grow up innocent.

This whole internal city/country struggle did bring to mind a few sayings we often joke about here. What is scary is how true some of them are…

You know you’re from a small town in Saskatchewan when:

  1. You and a few friends have spent at least one evening going cow-tipping.
  2. The ‘in’ thing to do is to spend the evening driving laps around town. This consists of driving around a five-block radius.
  3. All of the local parties are at ‘the bridge,’ ‘the dam,’ or ‘the tree.’ (There is only one of each in the area and everyone knows where they are.)
  4. You get into trouble downtown and your parents found out about it in the first 15 minutes.
  5. The entire town takes holiday for rodeo weekend.
  6. One of the biggest school events of the year is taking everyone to the bucking horse sale.
  7. When you tried to skip school the principal, who also happens to be your neighbor, knows whose house you’re hiding out in.
  8. Going on a date = a burger run (You drive an hour to pick up a burger and fries from the Burger King drive-thru and head home. On a second date, you might stop at the pool hall on the way back into town.
  9. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and “Teen Spirit” are played at every dance in town.
  10. You know more than the local newspaper about what’s going on before the paper is even printed.

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Saskatchewan Culture at Its Best – FolkFest 2008


August 14 – 16 in Saskatoon is an amazing time in the city for young and old. The volunteer based event features a variety of displays, performances, food, and shopping from all over the world. Folkfest started in 1980 and has since grown into one of the best cultural events in Canada.

Twenty-five pavilions are set up in the city to showcase the various cultures that can be found in the city. Youth Ambassadors and Ambassadors welcome you to each miniature country. Visitors can hear the stories each culture prizes as well as music, traditional dances, and art. Best of all is the food. Trust me. You haven’t eaten cabbage rolls or perogies until you’ve tasted the real thing from the Ukrainian Pavillion. Just like grandma used to make! The Indian/Metis pavilion is a great place to gain an understanding of the history and traditions of the culture including traditional dances and costumes.

To attend the event, you simply purchase a passport that not only permits you entry into all of the pavilions in Folkfest, but it also provides you with free transportation. For anyone under the age of 12, the entire thing is free! For more information visit the Folkfest website!

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