"Dancing helped me to heal and grow"
I’m Deanne Hupfield, Anishinaabe and host of the viral “How To Powwow Dance” video on YouTube. I’m also a past student of the Fashion Techniques and Design program at George Brown College.
Learning to powwow dance helped me to heal and grow.
It truly changed my life.
I experienced a lot of intergenerational trauma growing up as the child of a survivor of the Sixties Scoop.
My mom was taken from her home and made a crown ward, being raised in many non-Indigenous homes.
She was raised away from her community and her culture.
My mother tried really hard to show me the importance of my culture despite not having the chance to grow up in it herself.
I remember going to my first powwow and it was so beautiful and mesmerizing! As I walked into the powwow arena, there were drummers in the centre and people dancing around them. I saw one woman as she was spinning. To me she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen and I got so excited.
I knew I just had to learn how to dance like that too. I asked my mom to teach me but she was sad she couldn’t help me, having not learned to powwow dance herself as a child. My mom suggested I follow these beautiful dancing women around and learn from them. So that’s what I did, until they eventually took me under their wings.
And that’s how I came to learn the meaning behind these sacred dances.
But it wasn’t all easy from there.
My childhood and teen years were a struggle, as I spent time in foster homes and experienced extreme poverty. I had to learn how to steal just to have clothes and avoid being hungry all the time.
Through dance, I found my way out and it gave me new hope. I have seen a lot of family and friends go through many struggles and challenges, so I am extremely grateful for the power that dance can have for healing.
This is why I am so passionate about teaching the traditional ways of powwow dance to others. I have seen the difference it made in my own life and the lives of the students that I work with. I believe that all Indigenous people should have access to learning powwow about dance and culture, even when growing up displaced from their community.
My path has led me to working for the Toronto District School Board supporting Indigenous students and running a Powwow club for elementary students. I also mentor youth and taught powwow dance at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, for over 10 years.
Now, through my popular YouTube channel and Jingle Dress Making course, I am able to reach even more people and share my culture in a way that has helped me to heal so much.