10 Indigenous Experiences You Must Have This Summer in Manitoba

Posted March 08, 2024

As the summer solstice dawns, make a plan to connect with the first peoples of the place we all call home.

A visit to Manitoba means travelling through Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Territory and through communities who are signatories to Treaties 6 and 10. It encompasses the original lands of the Anishinaabeg, Anish-Ininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak and Nehethowuk and the homeland of the Métis. To learn more about Manitoba's Treaty areas, click here.

From powerful powwows to natural wonders that will move you to the core, Indigenous experiences abound in Manitoba. Be inspired! And make this the season you adventure into a greater understanding of our shared histories and unique cultures.

Making it the Métis way

Flashes of colour and big, bold blooms are the hallmarks of Métis beadwork. And no place is it more alive that at artist Melanie Gamache’s workshop in Ste Genevieve. At Borealis Beading, visitors are invited to explore two-needle beading, quilt-making and finger weaving through workshops held in the traditional circle style. Beginners can stitch a simple flower onto a cloth tobacco bag while experienced beaders can tackle a leather medicine bag, mitts or moccasins.

Playing at the point

Golf, swim, fish, dine or do it all! Buffalo Point Resort, tucked into the southeastern corner of Manitoba on Lake of the Woods, has a little something for everyone. There are basketball and pickleball courts, a tennis area, baseball field, play structures, paved walking path and a synthetic ice sheet. At the Fire and Water Bistro, local Reed River Rice harvested by Indigenous people from the community is on the menu. A stand-out is the pan-fried pickerel served with a smoked bean cassolette over wild rice. Owned by the Buffalo Point First Nation, visitors are invited to the Cultural Centre for a deep dive into the Indigenous history of the area. Inside, art and interpretive displays tell the stories of life here as far back as the 1700s, when Chief Red Cloud and the Sioux inhabited the land.

Fun on the Crow Wing Trail

It’s Season Kirkwood’s mission to connect people with nature. And she’s doing it in a fun, inclusive and immersive way through Sayzoons, her Indigenous-led outdoor experiences along Manitoba’s historic Crow Wing Trail. Whether it’s paddling a kayak or taking aim with foam-tipped arrows, people are finding joy through unscripted play. Kirkwood shares stories of the Metis way of life and invites guests to grow, learn and discover hidden gems.

Cultural connections at The Forks

The sculpture will make you stop and take note. And that’s exactly the purpose of Education is the New Bison at The Forks. The installation rests at the entry to Niizhoziibean, a natural area that now includes The Gathering Space, a teaching lodge, built by Indigenous craftspeople and based on a long-standing tradition of raising temporary shelters for ceremonies. Visitors are also invited to rest a while at The Peace Meeting interpretive site along the Broadway Promenade pedestrian pathway where the shared elements of two cultures are showcased. These new additions build on The Oodena Celebration Circle that has long been a significant and beautiful destination within The Forks with sculptures, a sundial, interpretive signage, a naked eye observatory and a ceremonial fire pit.

Add a powwow to your plans

Add a powwow to your summer plans this year. And there’s no bigger event than the Manito Ahbee Festival, an annual event held on the May long weekend in Winnipeg. Workshops are on the agenda this year, hosted by knowledge keepers who will share basic etiquette for first timers. Cultural customs and a brief language lesson will help newcomers understand their first powwow experience. The festival celebrates art, music, culture, dance, filmmaking and food and kicks off the powwow season across Turtle Island. Not to be missed is The Grand Entry, where dancers and elders formally open the event.

Where the spirit sits

The Bannock Point Petroforms echo the shapes of humans and snakes, birds and turtles, all carefully arranged in moss-covered rocks on Canada’s Precambrian shield. Diane Maytwayashing knows them well. The Anishinaabe knowledge keeper takes visitors on guided walks of the sacred site, sharing stories of the teachings and healings that continue to this day through ceremony and song. Visitors learn about the original name of the site—Manidoo-Abi—that loosely translate into ‘where the spirit sits.’ Book your visit at whiteshellpetroforms.com and prepare to be moved.

The first treaty

With its impressive collection of early stone buildings and robust history as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site has long been a favourite way to spend a summer day. But what visitors might not know is that the fort was the precise location of the signing of Canada’s first treaty. In 1871, the Saulteaux (Ojibwa) and Swampy Cree First Nations people and the Crown made a pledge to build a relationship for the future. Today the Legacy Flag installation honours Peguis First Nation, Sagkeeng First Nation, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Long Plain First Nation, Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation and Swan Lake First Nation. Throughout the fort, interpretive displays and costumed guides bring this history to life.

Wonderful wildflowers

Dragon’s mouth. Spotted coral root. Yellow lady slipper. Keep your eyes peeled downward for some of the most stunning wildflowers in Manitoba along the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail near Scantebury. It’s a project that sustains the historic cultural connection between the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and the unique ecosystem nearby. Rare wild orchids, insect-eating plants and funky mushrooms are on display along the fully wheelchair accessible boardwalk. The nature-packed stroll through this sacred area includes interpretive signage to help visitors understand this complex ecosystem that’s been used by Indigenous peoples for over 300 years.

Dog gone fun in Churchill

Whether you’re a dog person or not, you’ll fall in love with Rea, Comet, Raven and the rest of the team at Wapusk Adventures. Dog carting takes the place of dog sledding in the summer months. Big dog Dave Daley’s love of his dog, family and land run deep as he shares his adventures of running the Hudson Bay Quest race and caring for his beloved beasts. Visitors hop aboard a wheeled dog cart and whoosh through the wilderness on an exhilarating ride called the Ididamile—a take on the annual famous Iditarod race in Alaska.

Northern sunsets await

Tiffany Spence knows Churchill. As the force behind Beyond Boreal Expeditions, she guides visitors to The Flats, Cape Merry, Miss Piggy, the MV Ithaca and all the other sites that locals know best, in search of quintessential northern summer scenes. The landscapes dance with otherworldly wildflowers and photo buffs might get lucky with a polar bear wandering amid the fireweed. And then there are the Churchill sunsets—no two the same—sinking late into the northern night.