MANITO AHBEE | WHERE THE CREATOR SITS
On Saturday, November 5th the Proclaimers of the Resurrection and Captain Shari Russell attended The International Competition Pow-Wow, Winnipeg’s sixth annual Manito Ahbee Festival. Manito Ahbee is known for drawing people together, not only from Canada and the United States, but also from abroad.
“The impact of the festival reaches well beyond entertainment; it has communicated a very significant message about the importance of celebrating Aboriginal culture. The name Manito Ahbee references a sacred site located in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park, where First Nations traditionally gathered to share teachings and wisdom” (http://www.manitoahbee.com/).
Field instructors Major Keith Pike and Captain Shari Russell shared with us that the purpose of attending Manito Abhee was to experience what Aboriginal culture in Winnipeg has to say about itself. If we were to base our judgments of Aboriginal culture on media representations and hearsay it would be very easy to assume that there is not much hope within Aboriginal peoples. After attending Manito Ahbee it is clear that this perception is not based on what the Aboriginal people would say. During the introduction of the Pow-Wow the announcers shared that Manito Ahbee has traditionally been a place of healing and the dancing and singing tell stories of that.
The event started at noon with a prayer of blessing over the day and the Grand Entry. The flags representing the various nations were danced in first, followed by First Nations Veterans and their cadets. After the Grand Entry the floor was filled with 1262 dancers in all their regalia. Captain Shari taught us that in order for the regalia to be worn these individuals had to be free from substance use for at least two years. In addition to this rule, drummers endure long and intense training before gaining their positions. This speaks to the commitment of all of these individuals to their Aboriginal heritage, a heritage that is clearly alive and well.
After attending the event it is clear to see that the Aboriginal culture is not one of pessimism but that there is much for them to celebrate. It was inspiring to witness such a vibrant part of the Aboriginal culture and to hear the message Aboriginal peoples have to share.
Cadet Laura Hickman is a first year cadet in the Proclaimers of the Resurrection session, along with her husband David.
We appreciate Laura’s willingness to “report” on her experience at Manito Ahbee.