A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to visit the Aboriginal Village which has been encamped on the grounds of old Fort York since the start of the PanAm games. Sadly over the course of these games this installation has been sparsely visited and turnout in general has been rather disappointing. It is a very tucked away location and due to construction and lack of signage and p.r. many of the native vendors were not very optimistic that it would accomplish what they had hoped. After some coverage in the local press and a story featured on CBC finally some light had been shed. The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation decided to hold a Pow Wow to draw attention. An appeal was put out on social media and the response was nothing short of incredible. Aboriginal peoples from all over Canada, USA and even Mexico showed up in full force and colours. In all my years I have never been to a Pow Wow so for me this became a first on many levels. The premier, Kathleen Wynne and her partner along with several dignitaries attended to show their support. The music and dancing was intense and I could feel the pride and love this gathering created. The theme for the event was to honour the athletes and on hand were two native athletes to share their stories with everyone. Waneek Horn-Miller, a Mohawk of Kahnawake, was a member of the women’s water polo team that won a gold medal in the 1999 PanAm Games in Winnipeg. She spoke of her upbringing by a single mother of four girls, former model and First Nations activist Kahn-Tineta Horn, in a small two bedroom apartment. Her two older sisters are doctors and her younger sister is a gemini nominated actor. Also on hand was Mary Spencer a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. She was a part of the Canadian team in London 2012, the first games to feature women’s boxing. She has won three World Championships, one Pan American Games gold medal, and eight Canadian Championships. But, my most memorable moment came early in the proceedings. I had the opportunity to sit in the shade and talk to an amazing man known as Mishomis (which means Grandfather) who is the “Fire Keeper” of the sacred fire that has burned on this sight since the first day. He explained the significance of the fire to me and the rituals that go with it. During our chat he was asked if he could go and help with a prayer for the opening ceremonies. He looked around, everyone else seemed to have gone to see the grand entrance so he asked me if I would fill in for him on his short absence. He gave me a gift of tobacco, told me to accept it with my left hand because it is the one closest to the heart and for a time I was the official “Flame Keeper”. A few people came by to say a prayer on their way into the Pow Wow, offered gifts of tobacco, thanked me for sitting in and went on to join the festivities. When Mishomis returned it was my turn. I followed the rituals and said a prayer for peace, love and thanks for such a wonderful moment in my life. I also asked for a little support for my friend Karen Cowdery as she goes for funding next week with her loveproject.ca the thing that brought me here in the first place. As always, enjoy Toronto.