By Dave Baxter
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
An annual celebration of Indigenous culture kicked off in Winnipeg on Thursday, and organizers say they are hoping to see both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come to the Red River Ex grounds this long weekend and immerse themselves in that culture.
“This year’s lineup is truly a reflection of the best of Indigenous culture, arts, and music,” Manito Ahbee Festival executive director Lisa Meeches said on Thursday.
“We hope everyone will take the chance to come and immerse themselves in the beauty of everything Indigenous at this year’s festival and beyond.”
According to Meeches, this year’s Manito Ahbee Festival, which kicked off Thursday and runs until Monday, will feature both long-running and some brand-new events and activities.
Events over the weekend include the MAF signature Powwow, Indian Horse Relay Racing at Assiniboia Downs, a ball hockey tournament, entertainers on the Ignite Our Spirit Performance Stage, and an Indigenous Marketplace.
Meeches added this year’s event will also put an increased emphasis on inspiring Indigenous children and youth, and feature what is being dubbed the NextGEN youth celebration, which will be “a day to honour and pay tribute to Indigenous youth in a fun and inspiring event planned by young Indigenous leaders.”
This year’s festival will also feature the Red Road Runway fashion show, an Indigenous fashion show that will see designers and models showcase “the best of Indigenous fashion and art.”
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said in a media release she was excited for this year’s event, and excited that this year’s festival is finding opportunities to showcase young Indigenous people taking on leadership roles.
“We are very excited to welcome everyone to witness aspiring First Nation youth of Manitoba in various roles in leadership, empowerment, fashion design, fashion modelling, and Indigenous art,” Merrick said. “I applaud the courage and honour of our youth for showcasing their evolving gifts and contributions to our First Nations.
“What we see during the Manito Ahbee Festival is the legacy of our ancestors, and we take pride in all of it.”
Anyone looking for more information or a schedule of events for this weekend’s Manito Ahbee Festival can visit manitoahbee.com.
-Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Visit thecanadianpress.com for more services from The Canadian Press, Canada’s trusted news leader.