The awards ceremony of the Indigenous Music Awards is a celebration of First Nations creativity. It is also an important event in the larger program of the Manito Ahbee Festival of Winnipeg, which is named after a sacred site for all peoples in the west part of the Whiteshell area of Manitoba. In Ojibwe, Manito Ahbee means “the place where the Creator sits.” The name of Manitoba finds its origin in this special place.
The Manito Ahbee Festival, whose 13th edition just ended, celebrates Indigenous arts, music and culture at large. It presents international powwows, a conference on international Indigenous music, a market, professional development workshops, a visual art exhibition and community events. The University of Winnipeg cultural education day welcomed 800 young Manitobans for a seminar given by elders on the seven laws of First Nation culture: humility, honesty, respect, courage, wisdom, truth and love. There were also short workshops on native sports, Inuit culture, throat singing and the Métis gigue. There is also concern for mental health. Each year a young woman is chosen to be Miss Manito Ahbee, a title that, since 2006, honours the memory of murdered or missing girls and women in Canada. Four being the sacred number in Indigenous tradition, completing a cycle, the Manito Ahbee festival will honour for the four years to come the memory of Amanda Jane Cook, who was only 14 when she went missing on July 13 in 1996.
Hosted by Jarrett Martineau of the CBC and singer-songwriter Beatrice Deer, the Indigenous Music Awards for the first time honoured artists from other disciplines, such as participants the gigue competition and exhibitions of Indigenous works. A jury of peers will select the winners, which is new from this year. In past editions, the public made the nominations and selected the winners. The ceremony honoured such renowned artists as Buffy Sainte-Marie (for Best Folk Album and Best Music Video) and Pat Vegas (Lifetime Achievement Award).
The event confirmed established artists such as Shauit (Best Inuit, Indigenous Language of Francophone album) and gave new artists recognition. Ansley Simpson was Best New Artist and the talented Supaman won for Best Producer/Engineer and Best Rap/Hip Hop album. Don’t forget to check out other artists, such as Ziibiwan Rivers (Time Limits). An Anishinabe from the Wikwemikong First Nation on the non-ceded territory of Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Rivers said he never made music seriously until recently. However, the 22-year-old has already been nominated in two categories. Visit the festival’s website for downloading links.
Translated by An-Laurence Higgins