The University of Manitoba Indigenous Students’ Association (UMISA) held its first planning committee meeting for the sixth annual Miskofest event on Jan. 20.
The committee will meet multiple times throughout the months leading up to the event, which will be held on Mar. 31 and will be followed by a feast held at Migizii Agamik.
Miskofest began in 2018 and is a celebration of the Indigenous cultures on campus. Past events have included powwow dancers, drummers, Métis jigging and Inuit throat singing, among other fun activities that display the variety of Indigenous cultures on Treaty 1 territory at the U of M campus.
The Miskofest planning committee meeting was hosted by UMISA co-president and Arts Student Body Council assistant women’s representative Alicia Rae Kubrakovich.
Kubrakovich explained that the event is an important opportunity to represent Indigenous students and communities on campus.
“Often you see there isn’t a lot of representation when it comes to these spaces,” she said, adding that the event is about “creating that safe space for Indigenous students to see themselves within this institution, but then also to show this institution that we’re still here and we’re not leaving.”
The vision of Miskofest is to create a sense of belonging for Indigenous students who experience discrimination and culture shock or isolation due to relocation. The event will showcase Indigenous gifts and talents in a welcoming atmosphere.
The sixth annual Miskofest will be back in person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. UMISA invites all U of M students, faculty and staff to attend Miskofest and to learn from Indigenous culture.
Kubrakovich also called upon all Indigenous students, student groups, faculty and staff who would like to help showcase Indigenous talent and history on campus to join the planning committee for the event.
“I do invite all Indigenous students on campus that are looking to get involved and don’t know where to start, and also open it up to other Indigenous student groups that maybe don’t have that Indigenous representation that’s needed on their council,” Kubrakovich said.
UMISA as an association aims to support students at the U of M in a traditional way while providing a welcoming environment that encourages students to get involved. UMISA also provides leadership and access to knowledge about political, social, economic, environmental and cultural issues to students.
The next Miskofest planning committee meeting will be held the UMISA lounge in room 113 of the Helen Glass Centre for Nursing on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. Times and dates for future meetings are posted on UMISA’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
The UMISA Lounge is open Monday through Friday, with hours posted across UMISA’s social media platforms. The lounge provides a safe space to study and gather with fellow Indigenous students.
The lounge is also the location of other cultural activities hosted throughout the year, such as a free drop-in headdress workshop happening Feb. 16. UMISA also provides a smudge-friendly space on U of M campus.