By Trevor Greyeyes
Manito Ahbee 2021 will once again be held virtually on the Internet.
Fortunately, for Candace Hart, Manito Ahbee pow wow and events coordinator, she’s been through this once before.
Hart said, “We were right in the midst of… We had our posters, our head staff and everybody had signed on. We were preparing for specials. Right down to our venues were booked. And then everything just shut down.”
“We had no clue what we were going to do,” said Hart. “Within a month, we decided we were going to try it out virtually.”
So, from April to May, the people at Manito Ahbee had a steep learning curve to figure out how to still put on a pow wow without a venue and broadcast it virtually.
Now, with her and the Manito Ahbee staff having one year’s worth of experience, Hart promises that this year’s festivities, celebrations and cultural teachings will be even better.
They also have a partnership with powwows.com that operates out of South Carolina with a good following of people from the United States.
And the annual festival is more than just a great pow wow or music awards show, which in all honesty is something that I think is rather awesome, but about the chance to really connect with some cultural teachings.
The best of it all though are the people coming together from all over Turtle Island representing so many nations is a beautiful thing.
Not only as a journalist but as a Annishnabe person, it was great to see old friends from across the country attend the event and I remember meeting people from First Nations in the states.
Hart said that the staff are already thinking about next year and the thrill of hosting live events next year.
She also added that having a bigger reach through the Internet will also be included in their plans for the future.
This year’s Manito Ahbee will be the sixteenth time it has been held.
I remember interviewing Errol Ranville, of C Weed fame, who served as the first organizer of Manito Ahbee when it first began.
And another standout I have met is Grabrielle Ayala, a noted classical guitarist.
At one of the first music workshops, Ayala told us that there is no show where he comes from and cacti can grow to be fifty feet tall. He also wondered why people were complaining about this thing called slush on the ground.
The festival was held in late fall at the time.
Years later, probably a decade or more, I was interviewing Ayala and reminded him of what he said about the slush and the snow being wonderful.
He said that he has been north enough times to experience the cold and that he hates it too.
Now, I had been given a list of winners before heading to this event and was told not to waste my time, although the company that hired me for freelance put it more diplomatically, interviewing non-winners which is why I was talking to Ayala.
At a certain point he told me that he was going to ditch the event because he’s never won an award at these types of things. That he just came to do his performance and leave.
I hinted that it may be in his best interest to stay.
Ayala looked at me and said, “Don’t fool with me, brother.” Well, okay, he didn’t say fool but did use a colourful word that started with the letter f.
I was grateful to see go up to the podium ands see him accept the award.