Nancy Gregory wants people to know that the Manito Ahbee Festival (MAF) is not just for aboriginal people — it’s for everyone.
The MAF, from Aug. 16 to 21, celebrates indigenous entertainment and culture, but Gregory insists that people from other cultures are more than welcome to participate in the festivities.
"The drum calls us all," Gregory, communications specialist for the festival said. "We are all part of the same beat."
The MAF kicks off on Aug. 15 on Edmonton Street between Portage and Graham with a round dance. The goal is to get at least 400 people gathered together, holding hands and dancing with the MAF dancers in their traditional regalia.
"To see what kind of energy we can create before the festival begins," Gregory explained.
Aboriginal actor and director Lorne Cardinal will be hosting the festival for the ninth year. He is currently in British Columbia, but will be back in time for the event.
"Our theme this year is ‘ignite your spirit’," Cardinal said. "We hope it’ll spark their imaginations and their hearts."
A new event at the MAF is the Oh My Gospel (OMG) Jamboree taking place at the Holy Trinity Church across from the Millennium Library. Aboriginal artists are expected to sing gospel music.
"There’s also an open mic element," Gregory hinted.
There will also be a powwow near the end of the festival. Gregory encourages people to get up from the stands and dance along with them.
"It’s my first powwow," Gregory said. "There will be 1,000 people dancing."
For more information about the MAF, visit manitoahbee.com or call 204-956-1849.