Manito Ahbee Festival Wraps Up Its 12th Year Of Celebrating Indigenous Music, Arts, and Culture

This year, the Manito Ahbee Festival presented by Casinos of Winnipeg celebrated some big milestones at this year's event that included the Kick Off & Lighting of the Sacred Fire, the Indigenous Music Conference, MTS Youth Education Day, the Indigenous Music Awards, and the International Pow Wow presented by Casinos of Winnipeg.

“It has been an incredible week of events, and I am feeling deep gratitude to all of our funders, sponsors, artists, staff, volunteers, and the entire Pow Wow community,” said Lisa Meeches, Executive Director of Manito Ahbee Festival. “I feel a great sense of pride in seeing the community come out in such huge numbers with MTS Youth Education Day at full capacity, sold out Indigenous Music Awards and record numbers at the Pow Wow.”

A thousand students from across the city maxed out registration and filled the University of Winnipeg Axworthy Health & RecPlex for MTS Youth Education Day to learn about the Seven Sacred Teachings and Indigenous tradition, culture, and art. 

The Indigenous Music Conference saw its largest attendance yet with meaningful and informative conversations about managing careers, best practices for touring and festivals, and strategies for marketing and promotion.

At the sold out Indigenous Music Awards presented by Casinos of Winnipeg, 20 awards were given to the top Indigenous talent in categories ranging from rock to traditional Pow Wow. Logan Staats’ album, "Goodbye Goldia," took home two awards including Best Folk Album presented by Winnipeg Folk Festival and producer, Derek Miller, received the award for Best Producer/Engineer. Along with being honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Northern Cree also won the award for Best Hand Drum.

During Saturday's International Pow Wow presented by Casinos of Winnipeg, the Manito Ahbee Festival crowned Chante Mikwan Caroline Speidel from Saptoweyak Cree Nation Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as the new Miss Manito Ahbee Youth Ambassador honouring the memory of the Lorna Blacksmith and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. She is carrying on the tradition in her family of representing the festival as Miss Manito Ahbee. She is the third of four sisters to wear the crown and sash.

The Pow Wow welcomed the West St. Paul Pow Wow Club, which is made up of children from all backgrounds and brings reconciliation into the classroom with music and regalia while keeping it fun and engaging. 

The Pow Wow community honoured the founder and visionary of the Manito Ahbee Festival, Lisa Meeches, who is set to receive the Order of Manitoba on July 13, with a dance offering her healing, support and well wishes.

On the final day of the International Pow Wow, Patrick Ross took home first place for the Art Challenge with Kristen Flattery receiving second and Sarah Brazauskas receiving third for their live paintings. For the Art Expo, Neepy hunt won for her Jingle Dress, Darlene Daniels won for her Quillwork, Destard won for Beadwork, Claudine Longboat-White won for her Star Blanket, and Sharena Seymour won for her Ribbon Shirt.

Mark your calendars for May 16 to 20, 2018. 

Dave Sherman