Making Indigenous music accessible to Indigenous families is the goal for the first sākihiwē music festival.
The festival, formerly Aboriginal Music Week, will run at four venues in the downtown, North End, West End and Exchange District areas.
“Our main objective is to take music to families in divested neighbourhoods so they can walk to our stages,” Alan Greyeyes, chairperson of Aboriginal Music Manitoba which hosts the festival, says.
“It's important for us to remove the common barriers to accessing live music like transportation, safety, cultural isolation, ticket price and childcare that many Indigenous families face.”
The festival has moved from August to June to accommodate families, many of whom go out of town for powwows and ceremonies in the summer.
“We're excited for the kids to see themselves reflected in the acts on each stage,” Greyeyes says.
Another objective of the festival is to put Indigenous performers in the spotlight.
“I think that pop culture often reduces Indigenous people to caricatures and stereotypes,” Greyeyes says.
“These messages are damaging to our young people. The presentation of Indigenous artists, who stand in opposition to these messages just by creating exceptional work, is one of the things that we can control.
“We're going to do it well, and we're going to work hard to do it more.”
The new name sākihiwē means “to love” in Cree and was chosen by a Sundance Chief in a sweat lodge ceremony.
“It reflects where we're coming from and what we want to facilitate with our physical and digital footprints,” Greyeyes says.
The festival will take place at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, the Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre, Old Market Square and the Good Will Social Club. All shows are free except the Good Will event, which will be free only to the first 100 that reserve a ticket and $10 advance or at the door after that.
The lineup features acts in genres ranging from opera to roots to country to throat singing to hip hop and more.
Published in Volume 72, Number 25 of The Uniter (May 31, 2018)