“Show Indigenous youth they can be anything”: Winnipeg neighborhoods see return of sākihiwē festival

A popular Indigenous music festival in Winnipeg is back in person and continuing its mission to bring art directly to people instead of them coming to it.

The sākihiwē festival includes two ticketed concerts and four free block parties with performances by 26 artists from across Canada. It has gone live for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival – formerly known as Indigenous Music Week – has two goals: to bring Indigenous music to people living in underserved and disadvantaged areas and to be a platform for up-and-coming Indigenous artists and those in mid-career who may need support. a boost in support.

This year’s festival, which kicked off on Thursday, saw concerts take place at a range of venues in the Spence area, Central Park, the North End and the city centre.

For artists, whether new to the world of music or more advanced in their careers, being part of the festival is a way to help young people connect with their culture and dream big.

“I think it’s important to know where it comes from and the history,” said Morgan Grace of East Selkirk, a 15-year-old fiddler who is Métis. “I have fun doing it and then I learn my culture while doing it.”

This is echoed by Juno-winning artist Fawn Wood, a Plains Cree/Alberta Salish singer who won the Canadian Music Award last month in the category of Best Traditional Aboriginal Artist or Group for her album, Khaki.

“I believe that our Indigenous youth, when connected to their identity and the strength that comes with being an Indigenous youth and an Indigenous person, they are compelled to be recognized and in a good way,” Wood said. at CBC.

Morgan Grace, a fiddler from East Selkirk, is one of 26 Indigenous artists from across Canada taking part in the sākihiwē festival, which ends Sunday in Winnipeg. (Radio Canada)

Festival director Alan Greyeyes said it was essential to make artists accessible to people in their home regions.

“The biggest thing we’re doing is bringing the music to these families in the neighborhoods where they’re already there instead of asking them to come to a central location that’s convenient for us,” he said.

“I grew up with little representation in the media or on stage, and so I didn’t see myself and I didn’t see the possibilities. So I think what we really want to do as an organization and as a festival is to show young indigenous people that they can be anything, that they can have a career in the arts,” said Greyeyes.

Inspiring Indigenous youth is a key goal of the festival, says festival director Alan Greyeyes. (Radio Canada)

The sākihiwē festival runs until Sunday, when it will host two block parties. One will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at the Turtle Island Neighborhood Center at 510 King Street, and the other from 1 p.m. on Ellice Avenue between Sherbrook Street and Langside Street in the West End.

Details of performers and other attractions can be found here.

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