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'Summer Days' planned for end of July weekend in Lac La Biche

Pow Wow Days set to start July 30 with name-change

LAC LA BICHE - Lac La Biche Pow Wow Days and Fish Derby Association members are expected to approve a temporary name change of the annual event following a general meeting held on Tuesday night. The same meeting also announced the return of the annual celebration on the July 30 weekend this year.

"Summer Days" will likely be approved as the 2021 name for the weekend event — replacing Pow Wow Days — if the existing two-dozen association members approve the change, following Tuesday annual general meeting. The meeting, which elected a new executive to the almost 60-year-old board, resulted in a decision to temporarily modify the long-standing event's Pow Wow Days name to a more culturally-generic one — and go ahead with annual community celebration in just over two week's time.

The event is expected to span the July 30 weekend, and could potentially see a parade, midway, children's events and some other family-oriented activities. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Lac La Biche community's annual event last year.

Newly elected association president Lavon Fleming was not ready on Tuesday night to confirm specific events of this year's return until contracts are signed and commitments are made— although she did admit to already having some advance conversations with contractors.

Unveiling the specifics of the weekend's events right now isn't as important as announcing to the community that there will be an overall event, she said.

Past Pow Wow Days events have included a Friday parade, fish fry events, water bomber demonstrations, powwow competitions, baseball games, raffle draws, fish derbies, a midway, bandstands, community bingo games, and cultural displays.  With only two weeks to plan events, many activities will likely not be possible this year. The two-week timeframe also isn't enough to confirm any special permits requiring Alberta Gaming Liquor & Cannabis licenses.

Fleming said people have been cooped up for so long, have endured hardships and challenges .. and will likely enjoy any size of celebration.

"We have to do something, and something is better than nothing," she said.

Calling it a "slim" version of the annual celebration weekend — what one meeting attendee described as "Pow Wow Days lite," — Fleming said, "at least we'll have something."

Fleming and the newly elected board — Matthew Mouille as vice president, Neil Timm as secretary-treasurer, and directors Tim Bean and William Woodford — will be busy in the coming days canvassing community groups and agencies to assist with the short-notice Summer Days planning.

Event and board name changes

The coming days are also expected to create a sounding board in the community about the temporary name change of the annual weekend event.

Acknowledging cultural sensitivity, Fleming and the newly-elected board agreed a temporary name-change was needed. The alternative name will have to be officially ratified by association members, community stakeholders and residents before anything can become permanent.

The new board is also backing an idea that the official name of the association behind the celebration be referred to this year only by its initials. Fleming said "LLB PW & FD Assoc.  operating as Summer Days" will likely be the description in any media or promotion for this year's event.  Any plans to change the name of the association officially must be done through specific provincial legislation. Since the Lac La Biche Pow Wow Days and Fish Derby Association was first enacted by a Legislative Order in 1962, it is not a part of the province's Societies Act like most other provincial associations. The association is one of only four groups in the province to fall under its own specific Legislative Order.

An official name change for the association could take years to complete. A change in name creates a lot of red-tape to cut through, says Lac La Biche County Coun. George L'Heureux.

"To move that piece of provincial legislation through could take at least three years," said L'Heureux, one of nine people at Tuesday's meeting held at the Lac La Biche Legion. 

Despite the relatively low turnout, association secretary-treasurer Neil Timm said another 22 "proxy voters" had registered with the association, but could not attend the meeting.

The association's financial statement was also adopted at the meeting. An updated budget for the coming Summer Days celebration will be presented to the association's membership prior to the event.

Board members didn't give a date for their next planning meeting.