Ignite Your Spirit at the 2019 Manito Ahbee Festival
One of the world's largest annual gatherings and celebrations of Indigenous peoples and culture takes place this week in Winnipeg.
The 14th annual Manito Ahbee Festival is a four-day event (May 15-19) that brings together Nations from across Turtle Island (North America) and the world to share and promote their heritage, culture and art -- and everyone is invited to attend!
This weekend you can treat your senses to the power of the drumming and singing, along with the beauty of the regalia and dancing, during the two-day Pow Wow (Saturday and Sunday), while the festival as a whole features numerous events that celebrate Indigenous music and artistry, all while educating and exposing viewers and participants to the Seven Sacred Teachings of love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth.
Here's just a few things to know before you go:
Getting Started: The best way to kick-off your Manito Ahbee experience is at the Lighting of the Scared Fire (Wednesday at noon at The Forks). During this free event, you'll witness delegates, elders and dignitaries from across the world come together to make a tobacco offering to the fire -- which is lit in the middle of Oodena Circle at The Forks -- before participating in a pipe ceremony and the blessing of the hand drums. There will be speeches about the history of the festival, along with welcoming messages from numerous Indigenous groups, followed by a traditional Friendship Dance around the Oodena Circle that will mark the start of the festival.
The Must See: Manito Ahbee’s International Pow Wow (Saturday, 12 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m., RBC Convention Centre) is the largest pow wow in Canada and the second largest in North America, with over 800 dancers and drum groups in attendance. The colourful regalia of the dancers is truly remarkable, while experiencing drum groups in person can be a transformative -- it's just so powerful.
Here's a primer on what to expect at a pow wow, which also covers etiquette guidelines you should follow, along with what dances/contests you will witness.
For Music Lovers: The Indigenous Music Awards (Friday, 8 p.m., Club Regent Event Centre) is internationally recognized as being one of most prestigious honours for Indigenous musicians. Award categories are diverse and range from blues, to electronic, pow wow (contemporary and traditional), rap/hip hop and rock, traditional hand drums and Inuit/Indigenous language. Throughout this high-energy event many of the nominees will also be performing live.
The next day, get ready to tap your toes and be dazzled by the fancy footwork during Getting Jiggy With It – Manito Ahbee's square dance exhibition and jigging competition (Saturday, 10 a.m., RBC Convention Centre). The Red River jig is a unique style of fast-stepping footwork to fiddle music developed by the Métis community. The dance has been passed down over the years and gets individuals young and old on their feet to showcase their signature steps.
The Film Buff: Find your next indie favourite at Spirit Visions, a celebration of Indigenous filmmakers in Manitoba. The event begins Friday with the new 48 Hour Film Challenge where filmmakers will have a total of two days to write, shoot, and edit a short film. Final submissions will be screened at the Indigenous Film Panel (Sunday, 1 p.m. RBC Convention Centre) where the audience will get to vote for a fan favourite.
The Indigenous Film Panel also provides an opportunity to listen in as this year’s Indigenous Film Award nominees share insight on their journey into filmmaking and what it’s like to be behind the lens creating stories from an Indigenous perspective.
The Shopper: Whether you are looking for traditional artwork or contemporary treasures, there's something for everyone at the Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show (Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m., RBC Convention Centre). Here, you'll be able to purchase everything from handmade authentic moccasins, to paintings, to jewellery.
After you’re done browsing the aisles of artisans, check out the Art Challenge, an exciting competition where Indigenous artists paint live before an audience.
The 2019 Manito Ahbee Festival runs from May 15-19. For more information on events and times visit manitoahbee.com