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B.C. powwow organizers apologize after identity-based event rules spark outrage |

B.C. powwow organizers apologize after identity-based event rules spark outrage  |

Organizers of a popular powwow in Kamloops, B.C. have issued their “sincerest apologies” after the event rules posted to their Facebook page sparked significant public outrage.

According to a Tuesday post, contestants in the 41st Annual Kamloopa Powwow must be “at least (1/4) Native Blood,” and proof of “tribal identification/status may be required.” The rules also stated that dancers must wear full regalia and “be of the correct gender for that category.”

The rules sparked immediate backlash, with some social media users accusing the Kamloopa Powwow Society (KPS) of enforcing colonial blood quantum, excluding gender diverse and two-spirit people, and upholding transphobia.

“My deepest sympathy to those who have been hurt and harmed in that posting,” said an organizer in a video posted to the group’s Facebook page on Wednesday. “The KPS board has been able to meet to discuss how we’re going to move forward and looking at those rules and making our wrong right.”

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Global News has reached out to the KPS for comment on this story.

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The term “blood quantum” refers to a colonial blood measurement practice used to determine who can obtain government-issued Indigenous status and who can pass it onto to their children. While not specifically referenced in Canadian legislation, the Indian Act lays out such criteria.

In a video viewed more than 154,000 times as of Wednesday, two-spirit Nakota Sioux TikToker Kairyn Potts said the Kamloopa Powwow is “enacting literal colonization tactics.” He further described the gender limitations as “heartbreaking” and a “step backwards for our community.”

“It is actively undoing a lot of the work that myself, and many, many, many other advocates for the two-spirit and Indigenous queer community are putting in so much work, and love and energy into,” he said.

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On Twitter, Cree lawyer and activist Tanya Kappo described the “blood quantum” and “correct gender” stipulations as “shameful.”

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Stellat’en First Nation actor and model Shannon Baker tweeted, “Kamloopa powwow you should be ashamed of yourself! Blood quantum and being anti LGBTQ2S+ is colonial thinking.”

On Facebook, the Kamloops Pride Society said it has reached out to the Kamloopa Powwow Society to encourage a change in rules that intentionally includes two-spirit, trans and non-binary folks.

“Two-spirit people were historically celebrated and valued in Indigenous culture, and these decisions don’t align with that,” it wrote.

“Many of the voices we are hearing are echoing the sentiments of how these rules and decisions stem from the white colonialism, patriarchy, and systemic issues that still oppress these communities.”

Read more:

Being Two-Spirit and trans in Canada: How colonization shaped the way we view gender diversity

In its own Facebook post, C&T Tabulating, a business that tabulates and measures powwow outcomes through a point system, said it was withdrawing its services from the Kamloops event.

“We support peoples choices, we support inclusivity and cannot in good conscious put ourselves in a situation where our two spirit youth within our family see us enforcing any of these rules (sic),” it wrote.

It was clear in the event organizers’ Wednesday apology that other dancers and individuals had withdrawn as well.

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“I do not know how we’re going to recover from this,” the event organizer said in their video. “We respect your decisions and just know that we are here to relook at how we’ve been operating and how we can move forward in a good way so there is no room for hurt and harm to anyone.”

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According to the KPS, the now-controversial rules stemmed from a German participant in the powwow who won an event one year, upsetting some participants, and from an elder who once spoke about the need for the jingle dress category to be a women-only event.

“Today we’re more open to acknowledge our two-spirited,” the organizer said, “and even … Indigenous communities that it includes First Nations, Métis and the Inuit people.”

She herself was “hurting” as a result of the pain caused by the rules, she added. In its Facebook post, the KPS said the rules posted this week don’t reflect how it has run the last 19 powwows.

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The Kamloopa Powwow takes place on Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc territory, but the First Nation does not organize the event. Global News has reached out to its chief, Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir, for comment.

The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers culturally competent counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples experience trauma, distress, strong emotions and painful memories. The line can be reached anytime toll-free at 1-855-242-3310.

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‘We missed the mark’: Vancouver craft beer event organizers apologize after guests report disastrous experiences

'We missed the mark': Vancouver craft beer event organizers apologize after guests report disastrous experiences

Lengthy lines, tech meltdowns, and limited access to water (for a fee) were a few of the many complaints

A month ago, organizers of the popular Vancouver Craft Beer Week (VCBW) festival sent out a media release spotlighting how the 2022 event promised to set itself apart from past iterations of the beloved tasting.

“With an ambitious new ownership team at the forefront, VCBW returns bigger and better than ever before with a number of new and expanded features,” it begins.

This weekend, after some accounts of ticket-holders having a disastrous experience, organizers of “the Lower Mainland’s largest craft beer festival” are issuing statements and apologies. 

Attendees of the Saturday tasting event on the PNE grounds reported a massive line-up for entry, as well as lengthy line-ups at the beer vendor stands. 

Guests were required to purchase RFID wristbands and pre-load them with a $50 deposit in order to purchase beers (on top of the admission cost). Organizers explained the cashless wristband system was put in place “due to logistical and health reasons,” and described the process as “easy peasy.”

‘Wasn’t as seamless as we had hoped it would be’

However, some attendees cited problems with the wristband system, including long waits to add funds, being charged multiple times, and usage problems. One frustrated ticket holder said the system was “barely working” in their post-event rant on Reddit. 

In an initial statement shared online following Saturday’s event, VCBW organizers said: “Our goal was to simplify the process at the event removing tokens and ensuring all guests would be refunded anything they didn’t spend. We worked with a third party vendor for months, but unfortunately this process wasn’t as seamless as we had hoped it would be.”

On top of lines and payment issues, the biggest complaint was access to water, with attendees outraged they were not permitted to bring in empty bottles for filling with water, and only had the option to buy bottled water at $3 a piece. Many noted the water for purchase – when it was available – was warm Dasani. 

“The event doesn’t provide free, accessible water. This is unacceptable for my health. Especially on a sunny day with minimal cover,” said a ticketholder in an email to organizers shared with V.I.A.

“They refuse to let you bring water bottles, and then they charge you for water, the absolute f’ing gall,” described Reddit user arrbos.

“One of my main gripes is with water – in the past attendees could bring a refillable bottle and there were water stations around the event. To limit ticket holders to $3 bottles of water ONLY is ridiculous for a liquor event. Water should be free and free flowing, especially with the heat we had yesterday. Every time we went looking for water there wasn’t even anyone at any of the marked water stations on the map. Incredibly shortsighted in my opinion,” commented Erin Searle (@von_rockinon) on Instagram. 

‘Half our workforce didn’t show up’

VCBW attributed some of the issues to staffing problems. “Half of our workforce didn’t show up,” organizers said in a second statement issued late Sunday

Many, however, felt like the organizers were not adequately taking responsibility, in particular for the no-show volunteers. “If it was due to staff being sick, they shouldn’t throw them under the bus for the issues with their event, citing excuses for atrocious lines with ‘staff that didn’t show up.’ They should instead take ownership for the piss-poor planning and organization. They could have anticipated this, after all, being in a pandemic for 2+ years,” said a Reddit user named f*ckyduck.

“Volunteers are not a ‘workforce.’ You failed to organize volunteers and failed on almost every other aspect. Depriving people of water is inhumane, monstrous behavior. You are greedy, unapologetic monsters,” said Beatriz Rod (@bettyrm90) on Instagram.

Some guests were more understanding. “Though I’m one of the people who was frustrated on Saturday, I am grateful to the volunteers who did show up and the breweries and their staff that kept the beer flowing as fast as they could to serve as many people as they could. I met some lovely folks on Saturday and the overcrowding, line, and lack of water was not their fault!” said Noelle (@dunworrybehoppy) on Instagram.

VCBW organizers said they now know that being understaffed and having wristband tech issues got in the way of showing guests a good time. “Unfortunately, we missed the mark,” they said, inviting feedback to be sent to them via email. 

For some, though, the 2022 VCBW was the end of the road. “Never again,” avowed Reddit user caw___caw. “There [aren’t] chill vibes anymore like the previous year. It just feels like a chore having to run line to line to get your next beer. Chasing your buzz.”