Indigenous Initiatives

Land Acknowledgment

Winnipeg Folk Fest takes place at Birds Hill Provincial Park, Manitoba, Canada on Treaty 1 territory and the homeland of the Métis people.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival respects the Treaties that were made on this territory. In a spirit of reconciliation, we work with our Indigenous Advisory Circle and Indigenous partners to further develop relationships and opportunities to share Indigenous culture at and through our festival and year-round activities.

Knowledge Keeper

Sherry Copenace

Born and raised in the Ojibway community of Onigaming in Northwestern Ontario, Sherry Copenace is proud of being Anishinaabe and all that she has learned from her greatest teacher, her grandmother Shawon. Her experience in social work has led her to work with young women, teaching Anishinaabe traditions and ceremonies, including Indigenous childbirth practices that bring “birth back to the community.”

She is currently employed at the University of Manitoba as part of their Master of Social Work based in Indigenous Knowledges Program. Sherry speaks her original Ojibway language and has a great love for the Land, Waters and Peoples.


Our mission at the Winnipeg Folk Festival is to create experiences of discovery and learning through the celebration of people and music. We present world-class creative and artistic talent from Manitoba and around the world.

We are committed to facilitating the sharing of Indigenous voices and culture with Manitobans, creating opportunities for enjoyment, engagement, education and understanding through the celebration of Indigenous art, song, ceremony and storytelling.

Guiding Principles

  • To work with members of the Indigenous community as part of our Indigenous Advisory Circle, to create an ongoing dialogue regarding programming and the sharing of Indigenous culture as it relates to the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
  • To program Indigenous artists whose voices and perspectives are heard as part of the folk music and storytelling traditions at the festival.
  • To open our festival and welcome all attendees to our festival with a blessing from a Knowledge Keeper from the Indigenous community.
  • To welcome artists from all over the world to our festival with a traditional welcoming ceremony including prayer, song and a tribute to the land we are on.
  • To bring projects from Indigenous visual artists to our Prairie Outdoor Exhibition to create interactive artistic experiences.
  • To present Indigenous artisans in our Hand-Made Village where festival attendees can interact with the artisans and purchase their hand-crafted works.

2020 Winnipeg Folk Fest

Lineup Artists

Black Belt Eagle Scout

Indie Rock//Oregon
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Black Belt Eagle Scout is the recording project of Katherine Paul. Heralded as a favorite new musician of 2018 by the likes of NPR Music, Stereogum and Paste, her debut album was named as a “Best Rock Album of 2018” by Pitchfork. Paul’s catalog of music has grown from stories of loss and landscape and of her standing as a radical Indigenous queer feminist, to finding power in love, desire and friendship. Her latest album features delicate vocals and soft keys, sentiments spoken and unspoken, presenting something shadowy and unsettling; a stirring of the waters.

Last Album: At the Party With My Brown Friends (2019)

Pitchfork | The Best Rock Albums of 2019
Pitchfork | Black Belt Eagle Scout Is Bringing Queer Indigenous Stories to Indie Rock
Paste | Black Belt Eagle Scout Shares New Single and Video "My Heart Dreams"

Josh Q and The Trade-Offs

Arctic Soul // Nunavut

Arctic Soul, Josh Q and The Trade-Offs' iconic brand, is distinguished by the deep brooding voice of Josh Qaumariaq and soulful background of Jeff Maurice set against blues and rock ‘n’ roll sounds echoing from the depth of the Northern tundra. In a blend of Inuktitut and English lyrics, The Trade-Offs sing the Arctic blues about universal themes of light and darkness and closeness and isolation. While the band is a staple of the Iqaluit music scene, they have played across Canada, including main stage performances at major festivals and at the iconic Cameron House in Toronto.

Last Album: Qaumariaq (2017)

Richard Inman

Folk/Country // Manitoba

Richard Inman is quickly becoming a staple of Winnipeg’s folk and country scene. With a rich baritone voice and delicate musical touch, he crafts mature songs that feel at once deeply familiar and bracingly fresh. Splitting his time between South Eastern Manitoba and central Alberta, Inman has dedicated his time to bringing authentic stories and songs about the everyday people and places he comes across.

Last Album: Hasta La Vista (2019)

Ruby Waters

Indie // Ontario

Her sound is similar to her journey - eclectic, hard to define and always changing. Born and raised in the small town of Shelburne her deep love for music comes mainly from her parents' influence. Mom met Dad whilst each in their own traveling band - Ruby’s got roots. She plugs in and belts out, unapologetically leaving you in awe.

Last Album: Almost Naked (2019)

Shanley Spence

Traditional Indigenous Hoop Dance // Manitoba

Shanley Spence is a Nihithaw and Anishinaabe woman who was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba but a member of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation on her mother’s side and Lake St. Martin First Nation on her father’s. She began her hoop dancing career at the age of 13 and has been graced with the opportunity to perform at a variety of nationwide and international events. Shanley’s beliefs and passions include the importance of education, music, community development, international travel and staying active within her community with a focus on youth empowerment, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), mental health, Indigenous activism and basic human rights.

Summer Bear Dance Troupe

Indigenous Interactive Sharing // Manitoba

If the beat of the drum is the heartbeat of this Treaty 1 land, then the blood in its veins is dance. For thousands of years, people have gathered on these plains to move their bodies to pounding rhythms and today the Summer Bear Dance Troupe is one of the finest keepers of these traditions. Founded in Winnipeg by Barbara Nepinak and featuring dancers from the Ojibwa, Cree, Assiniboine and Sioux Nations, the troupe has carried its celebration of Indigenous dance right around the world, performing for audiences as far afield as Taiwan and Sweden. In their resplendent handmade regalia, the Summer Bear dancers step and whirl through the powerful grass dance, show-stopping hoop dance and magnificent jingle dress display, taking care to teach about the origins of each along the way.

Hand-Made Village Artisans

Anishinaabe Girl by Shauna Fontaine

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For hundreds of years Indigenous peoples have used elements from nature as a form of artistic expression and adornment. Anishinaabe Girl continues this tradition of harvesting and accessing natural elements to create one of a kind jewelry designs with a touch of boujee glam. Using delicate furs, leathers, gemstones, metals, rustic birchbark, antlers and porcupine quills with distinctive Anishinaabe cultural artwares, Anishinaabe Girl’s creations have been well-known in Manitoba for more than 15 years.

Anne Mulaire Designs by Andéanne Dandeneau

Anne Mulaire is a Métis-owned designer label that women can wear with incredible comfort, confidence and pride. Anne Mulaire creates durable, beautiful, environmentally friendly clothing that reflects who you are.

Fat Daug-Hand Carved Antler Jewelry by Candace Lipischak

Short for father-daughter, Fat Daug creates unique hand-carved antler jewelry. Inspired by her Métis roots, Candace carves earrings and pendants from moose, deer, caribou and elk antlers, showcasing the natural beauty of each individual piece.

New Earth Frequency by Aimee McGillis

New Earth Frequency is an Indigenous-owned business that creates unique, modern, handcrafted heirloom jewelry pieces that inspire the wearer's intrinsic connection to nature, and the inter-connectedness of all life.

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