Every year, the Manito Ahbee festival celebrates Indigenous arts and music, and offers a greater understanding of Indigenous culture. Taking place in May (dates TBA) at venues around Winnipeg, Manito Ahbee is a kaleidoscope of colour and culture, brought to life through music, dance, and art. The festival unites the spirits of all people, honouring the Creator and the seven sacred teachings: love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth.
The eagle represents this teaching because it can soar the highest and closest to the Creator. What better way to express love than through music? Catch a concert throughout the festival or take part in the Indigenous Music Conference.
The buffalo and the Indigenous people shared a special relationship – a sustainable relationship that was a true expression of respect. Show your respect for the incredible talents on display at the Art Expo. See detailed bead and quill work, beautiful ribbon skirts, and stunning star blankets. You may even have the opportunity to purchase some of these incredible works.
The bear teaches courage – gentle by nature, a mother bear shows great strength when protecting her young. What better way to witness a demonstration of courage than at the exhilarating and inspiring Art Competition. This new addition to the festival will see twenty artists will compete in a live painting challenge. They’ll have 30 minutes to complete their piece and people in attendance – that could be you! – get to vote on who will move on to the next round.
Sabe is a spirit who is believed to move between the physical and spiritual realms reminding us be honest to the laws of the Creator. When you were true to yourself and accepted the way you are, your spirit was said to be as big as the Sabe. The International Pow Wow is a place where spirits are strong. As the largest pow wow in Canada, and the second largest in North America, watch dancers compete in a number of categories to the beats of the top drum groups from across the continent. Read more about the dances you’ll see, and don’t forget the Getting Jiggy With It and Square Dancing Competition also offer some truly incredible footwork.
The beaver knows his gifts – his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches – and uses them to direct the flow of water, in turn contributing to the community. Browse through the Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show to see how artisans and indigenous craft workers are using their gifts by creating incredible pieces you can take home with you.
Living in a pack, as part of a team, the wolf teaches humility. Each wolf plays a role that is just as important as the others. Manito Ahbee’s Youth Education Day teaches kids about the traditional teachings, engaging them to find ways in which they can contribute to the community. This school component of the festival shares the history and story of the pow wow and gets kids connected through traditional and contemporary music styles, featuring drum and electronic beats.
Grandmother Turtle was there when the Creator gave his people the seven sacred teachings to make sure they would never be forgotten. The markings on her shell serve as a reminder of the truths of a Higher Power. The will of the Creator is honoured at Manito Ahbee’s Kick-off and Lighting of the Sacred Fire, where tobacco will be offered.
Full festival details, schedule, and ticket information can be found at www.manitoahbee.ca.
Hai Hai, Meegwetch, Thank you & Merci to Tasha Spillett for her help with this article. Ms. Spillett is Cree & Trinidadian and works as an educator in Winnipeg. She is also a board member for the Manito Ahbee Festival.