Elevate your next meeting or event by inviting Indigenous talent and Knowledge Keepers. Whether you’re looking for live entertainment, a formal blessing or a team building hands-on workshop, there are a plethora of options to explore right here in Winnipeg. An easy way to tap into the city’s talent network is through Folklorama, the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival held here annually. The umbrella organization includes an experienced booking agency led by Director of Ethno-Cultural Arts Christian Hidalgo-Mazzei. He says there are several benefits for planners to work with Indigenous talent to elevate their event programming.
“It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the people that make up our province and country and Indigenous Peoples are part of that. It is our mission and my mission as someone who has worked with Folklorama for a long time to preserve intangible cultural heritage,” says Hidalgo-Mazzei.
Folklorama at Work (other branches include Folklorama at Home and Folklorama at School) has cultivated strong relationships to develop a roster of artists available for booking. Hidalgo-Mazzei says he spends a lot of time with planners in advance to understand an event’s goal, audience, budget and flow. Then he works his magic to come up with the perfect group.
“My job is to ensure that I match the right entertainment to the event and that the artists understand the role they play [in it],” he says.
Some of the Indigenous performers in the Folklorama at Work family include:
Shanley Spence is a Nihithaw and Anishinaabe woman who began her hoop dancing career at the age of 13. She has performed at a variety of nationwide and international events, conferences and interactive workshops with other groups and independently. While Shanley performs several styles of shawl dancing, she stands out for her talent in competitive hoop dancing, which is typically male-dominated. She has won numerous accolades for her contributions to the community.
The Summer Bear Dance Troupe was spearheaded by Elders Barbara and Clarence Nepinak. The Troupe performs a wide range of dances in typically handmade regalia (clothing), all while acknowledging the different regions from where the dances originated. The group also offers drumming workshops, storytelling, miniature teepee-making workshops, and hoop dance workshops to promote openness and acceptance. The Summer Bear Dance Troupe is able to provide teachings and cultural awareness, and Barbara and Clarence are available for bookings to provide openings, blessings, welcomes and cultural guidance for events as well.
Manitoba is the birthplace of the Metis nation, a people of North American Indian and European ancestry who coalesced into a distinct nation in the northwest in the late 18th century. La Troupe Jeunesse de l’Ensemble Folklorique de la Riviere-Rouge and The Metis Prairie Steppers keep their traditions alive with high-energy music and dance.
These are just a few local options for Indigenous talent and Knowledge Keepers, among many others.
“When it comes to Indigenous performers, we will customize something depending on what the need is—sometimes it’s just one performer, other times it can be a mini powwow for a bit more pageantry or a mini grand entry. Many times it’s just a song, blessing or a short presentation. It really depends on time and budget,” says Hidalgo-Mazzei. “Also, as an agent, if you find someone that is not in our roster, I can book it for you.” This includes artists from across the country and around the globe.
For more information on performers and event management, please visit the website.
For more information on these unique off-site venues and others in Winnipeg, visit meetingswinnipeg.com.