- Education & Outreach
Aboriginal Advisory Group
The Winnipeg Folk Festival has an Aboriginal Advisory Group that offers guidance on our relations with the Aboriginal community. This group assists in the development of the year-round community outreach programs we offer, and supports Festival efforts.
Celebrating Our Indigenous Roots
To the indigenous people of Manitoba, the site of the Winnipeg Folk Festival at Birds Hill Provincial Park is significant in that it is located in the geographical centre of the continent, between – The Forks in Winnipeg, and Manitou Api in Whiteshell Provincial Park. For centuries past, these places have been home to gathering, sharing, and ceremony by indigenous people from all over the region.
The 2013 opening blessing was offered by Elder Mae Louise Campbell.
Sacred Welcoming Ceremony Intimate But Powerful
By Christine Mazur
Organizers of the Winnipeg Folk Festival designated time and space for a special ceremony to welcome Aboriginal and international performers. All performers and volunteers were invited to attend the Friday afternoon ceremony, offered by Ojibway Metis Elder Mae Louise Campbell, who had also given Wednesday night’s Main Stage opening prayer.
About 35 people gathered at 2:00 p.m. in a small clearing off the backstage schlepper road just past La Cuisine. Jennifer Davis, education and outreach coordinator at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, began by apologizing for the precise scheduling of the event, drawing attention to the importance of incorporating and acknowledging indigenous culture in the Festival’s practices.
Campbell gave an explanation of the ceremony, noting that in her experience meeting with indigenous people from other countries, such traditions are similar all over the world. Going around the circle she smudged everyone with sweet grass smoke and a pat on the head with sacred eagle feathers. Campbell then asked members of the local aboriginal community to formally welcome each visitor with a tobacco tie.
Visiting aboriginal performers included the members of Ontario’s Electronica/Powow DJ trio A Tribe Called Red, and Australia’s Reggae band Blue King Brown.
Justice Murray Sinclair, offered a closing prayer, speaking passionately about those indigenous brothers and sisters unable to share in the sacred ceremonial experience because of incarceration or homelessness.
Traditional singers sang guests in a procession around the circle to close.