It's the seventh-annual Manito Ahbee Festival. And the event's organizers are eager to confirm -- particularly to the young students involved in its outreach programs -- that it won't be the last.
"The theme of the festival this year is 'Prophecy,' and what we're trying to do is put everyone's mind at ease regarding the Mayan/Aztec calendar and the notion that the world's going to end (in 2012)," Manito Ahbee general manager Gloria Spence says. "It's not true. So we have an individual coming in from California who is going to speak at the education days about that, and about what the Mayan calendar really means."
The guest speaker, Hector Perez-Pacheco, will appear at the festival's youth education gathering, as well as other events, with a message that the much-discussed end-of-days scenario is not an accurate reflection of what the Mayans predicted.
"It's a misinterpretation," says Spence. "The world is not going to end in December 2012."
When asked if she or Perez-Pacheco -- or, for that matter, the Mayans -- have another prediction for Earth's demise, Spence can only laugh.
Armed with the knowledge that this won't be a farewell tour for anyone involved, Spence is eager to discuss plans for the 2012 Manito Ahbee Festival, which she describes as the biggest and best yet. The festival runs from Wednesday's official kickoff (10:30 a.m., Fairmont Hotel) to the conclusion of the Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show on Sunday evening; its marquee events are the 7th Annual Aboriginal Peoples Music Awards (Friday at 7 p.m., MTS Centre) and the International Competition Pow Wow (Saturday and Sunday, MTS Centre).
"We are now the No. 2 powwow in North America, according to PowWows.com," she explains. "We're second only to the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M., and their powwow has been going for 28 years. With us being only in our seventh year, we're pretty proud of that.
"We have people from all over North America coming to compete; last year at our first Grand Entry, we had over 1,200 dancers, which is huge. And we expect a similar number this year."
Spence says that interest in the APCMAs has also increased steadily, as evidenced by the number of artists submitting work for consideration and the online voting by fans to determine the winners.
Perennial host Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas, Arctic Air) returns as the awards show's MC, this time handling the job as a solo act.
"He's a huge fan of the festival, and he looks forward to doing the show every year," says Spence.
Spence says she's particularly pleased with this year's choice for the APCMAs' lifetime achievement award, Far North music pioneer Louie Goose.
"He's a residential-school survivor; it was in that school, in fact, that he created his band, the Mackenzie Delta Band, and they're still together," she says. "They're still huge celebrities -- he's like the Elvis of the North.... He was a trailblazer in music in the North.
"A few of the (band's) members have passed on, but the remaining ones are coming to the MTS Centre and are going to perform at the show. It's a huge, huge thing for us -- we want them to be as popular in the rest of Canada as they are in the North, and we're hoping this will help that happen."
This year's Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show, which takes place Saturday and Sunday at MTS Centre, will offer an expanded roster of crafters and artisans.
"We've sold more booths this year than ever before," Spence says.
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