UMISA holds 6th annual Miskofest

Indigenous cultural celebration held in person for first time since pandemic began

The University of Manitoba Indigenous Students’ Association (UMISA) held the sixth annual Miskofest on Saturday, March 25. Miskofest is a celebration of the campus community’s Indigenous cultures.

Due to COVID-19, Miskofest has been held online for the past few years. This was the first year Miskofest was held in person since the beginning of the pandemic. UMISA co-president Alicia Rae Kubrakovich and the UMISA council had been planning for Miskofest since the beginning of the Winter term. Despite some initial concerns about attendance numbers coming back from being online, Kubrakovich said that the event had an “amazing turnout.”

“I’m grateful for the community coming together and supporting us as a student group and as Indigenous students,” Kubrakovich said.

Performances at the event included powwow dancers from the Flett-Roulette family, who have been dancing and teaching for seven years. Dreyden and Jordan Flett-Roulette gave a demonstration of the grass dance. Other dances include old style jingle dancing and fancy shawl dance.

Another special segment included a performance from Métis jiggers Felicia Morrisseau and Ashley Dawn, along with master of the jig Ryan Richard.

UMISA also hosted a silent auction taking in non-perishable food items and hygiene products to be donated to the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre in exchange for tickets.

All prizes and gifts were in support of Indigenous artists and businesses. The Akiing Onji Foundation provided funding for the giveaway prizes.

Five bags and boxes full of non-perishable food and hygiene products were collected for donation.

“Within the Indigenous community, giving back is a big thing,” Kubrakovich said.

“It was really nice to see that people came with all their donations.”

Ivana Yellowback, co-host of Eagle Vision and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network’s 7th Gen, was invited to MC Miskofest. The Indigenous community market featured Indigenous-owned businesses, including Fire Spirit Creations, Pinesīs Beadwork, Ikwe Creations, Mama Wolfe’s Home Spices and more. Student groups such as the Arts Student Body Council and the Science Students’ Association had booths set up at the event.

Kubrakovich highlighted the fact that most of the businesses that set up booths were student-led and that event organizers wanted to have Indigenous student businesses and student groups attend to promote their hard work.

Miskofest concluded with a community dinner served by local Indigenous restaurant Feast. Soups and bannock were provided for the dancers, volunteers and all those in attendance. Kubrakovich said that by the end of the event, “everybody was up and just vibing and making friends.”

“It’s kind of a mingling thing too,” she said. “You make friends that last forever.”

Kubrakovich also emphasized the importance of Indigenous youth participation in the community.

“With all the Knowledge Keepers kind of passing away, it’s time for us to take on that responsibility as young Indigenous leaders, young Indigenous youth to pave the way again for the next seven generations ahead,” she said.

Kubrakovich hopes for Miskofest to continue well into the future.

UMISA will be collaborating with the Métis University Students’ Association (MUSA) and UM Métis to bring together the Indigenous community with the Learn to Red River Jig workshop. The event will be held Thursday, April 6 at 113 Helen Glass Centre for Nursing.

More information can be found at @umisacouncil on Instagram.