The Ranch’s Buckland campus has recently followed our southern program’s footsteps and established a powwow group for youth.
Buckland’s group is led by Matheson House youth care worker Ryanda Thunderchild and runs every second Sunday from 6 to 7 p.m. There are six youth who attend regularly, but the group is open to any youth attending at any time; regular participation is not necessary.
“This is my first time doing something like this, and I’m learning a lot,” Ryanda said. “The improvement in these kids – some of whom have never danced before – is amazing!”
Ryanda, who has been involved in powwows most her life, believes a powwow club is about a lot more than the act of dancing.
“This group is important because it gives the youth an opportunity to learn more about their culture if they want to. Dancing powwow is not just about dancing – it’s also teaching the youth to have respect for themselves and the outfits they put on. It teaches them mindfulness, and shows them they can have fun in a sober way,” she said.
The group began in November but Ryanda already sees differences in the youth who regularly attend. She believes powwow dancing can have a healing effect.
“The kids have more confidence. They talk about how much fun they’re having and express pride in themselves,” she said. “Sometimes kids will come in upset, but at the end of the evening they feel better and sometime forget what they were upset about.”
“The group is at the beginner stages, but Ryanda is very committed and doing a great job,” said Kevin Mugford, director of residential treatment.
Ryanda is pleased to be able to share something that means so much to her with the youth she works with.
“The fact that I get to share this part of myself with the kids feels good. I hope what I teach them carries on.”