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Sharing our stories: Awe-inspiring

Story told by: Leonard Bordeau
Written by: Melissa Stacey – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Translation by: Katsenhaién:ton Lazare

….We had this big powwow and I was so impressed with all the different types of regalia, the styles of dance for both men and women, and the sound of the drumming. I didn’t even know there were different categories when it came to powwow. In the male category, there’s men’s traditional, fancy, and grass. On the women’s side, you had jingle dress and women’s fancy and traditional.

Smoke dancing only came a few years after because we were doing strictly powwow dancing at first. But it’s a part of our traditional dancing styles. It caught on big time over here. A lot of our younger dancers are getting involved and they can dance up a storm.


Leonard dances during the grand entry of Kahnawakes Echoes of a Proud Nation Pow Wow on July 12 1997 That year was Leonards second year of powwow dancing Courtesy Leonard Bordeau


I was working in Valleyfield when 1990 happened. We couldn’t get out of Kahnawake. We couldn’t go to work. As it happened, I was on my two-week mandatory summer vacation. I said, “Well no sweat, we’re on vacation. I’m not gonna go to work.”

Almost every night I would go out to the Highway 138 blockade. There were always a bunch of guys out there. We would sit and talk all night, just shooting the breeze.

One night they brought in a live drum group. They started drumming and they’re singing to it and chanting. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I was so amazed to hear the drums. It was so awe-inspiring. I couldn’t forget about that experience.

I told my wife, “One of these days, I’m not going to be sitting up in the grand stand as a spectator, I’m going to be out there with everyone.”

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