It was a full circle moment for Tyrone Kruger and Nicole (Schellenberg) Kruger on June 24, when the couple got married at the very same powwow where they first started dancing.
The two individually began dancing at the Four Seasons Cultural Society’s (FSCS) powwow in snpink’tn (Penticton) in syilx homelands six years ago. They were later introduced through Tyrone’s sister, and got closer as they spent time together and went to more powwows.
“He wasn’t able to get a ride to powwow one year. So I took him with me and my family. After that, we just got really close with each other,” said Nicole, who’s from the Chilcotin Nation.
The couple got engaged this past January, and they knew that they wanted to have a special wedding ceremony. When the opportunity came up to get married at this year’s FSCS Powwow Between the Lakes — the first time it’s happened since 2019 — they knew that they couldn’t pass it up.
“We talked it through and I said, ‘Let’s get married in front of all the people we powwow with, get married at the place we love to go,’” said Nicole.
With residential “school” impacting each of their families, Tyrone said that the couples’ parents didn’t have the chance to go to or dance at powwows. He called the wedding ceremony at the powwow an act of reconciliation.
“(Powwows) haven’t been a thing that we’ve always had. It’s something that we brought back,” said Tyrone, who’s from the Penticton Indian Band (PIB).
So, in front of family, friends, spectators and dancers they’ve met along the powwow trail over the years, the two got married in the middle of the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC), during the powwow’s second day.
“Having it here, being the first time ever at the SOEC — and this is where we met, this is where we fell in love and this is where we first started dancing — it felt like one full circle,” said Tyrone.
The ceremony was officiated by Joseph Pierre, Tyrone’s cousin, who joined the two in a ceremony that involved the Four Food Chiefs, in-line with syilx teachings and protocol.
“They will join together to be each other’s soulmates, and walk that powwow trail and that red road together,” said Pierre.
Tyrone’s grandpa Jack and his grandma Joanne also said prayers for the couple, and blessed them during the ceremony.
“Think of good thoughts for these two on the road to the powwow trail, on the road to life,” said grandpa Jack.
“And that you always support each other and always be there for one another. That is what we’re going to do now.”
The matriarchs of the two families then wrapped a buffalo hide around the couple, which Pierre explained protects them from the elements and blankets them with love.
“This buffalo hide represents that connection to the outside world, and that wrapping of warmth and love that your families have,” said Pierre.
The arena was filled with cheers as the two were united as a couple. They hosted a sweetheart dance special right after, and dancing couples were invited to participate.
“We wanted all the couples to come out and spread their love, as well for each other and towards us,” said Tyrone.
For Nicole, she said that she hopes that the wedding inspires others to bring back culture in their lives.
“My parents didn’t powwow dance. My grandparents were in residential school, my aunties and uncles were. I was the first person in my family to bring back culture,” she said.
“I just want to encourage everyone to get back out there on the floor, to learn where you come from and who you are.”
Nicole and Tyrone have a honeymoon planned for late July, and will spend the duration of their summer hitting the powwow trail. As they embark on their new journey together as a married couple, Tyrone said that they’ll always be dancing together.
“Until golden age,” said Nicole.