Presenting one of our volunteer placement in Winnipeg for the National Experience
Festival du Voyageur inc. is a community-based festival in Saint-Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Every year we celebrate winter, we celebrate Manitoba’s Francophone heritage and culture – through the character of the historical Voyageur. Voyageurs worked in the fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, transporting trade goods to the West and meeting with Indigenous people across the country.
Winnipeg has always been a very important site for Indigenous people, a meeting place at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, on the ancestral land of the Cree, Oji-Cree, Ojibwe, Dene, and Dakota people, the Homeland of the Métis Nation. People have been trading here and doing business, exchanging cultures for thousands and thousands of years. This is one of the things we want to celebrate. Winnipeg in February can be harsh so our goal is to bring the community together in celebration.
Festival is not only about fur trade interpretation, but music also plays a massive part: during the 10-day winter event we put up giant heated tents, and we have bands from across Canada there to help us celebrate. Another important component of the Festival is our International Snow Sculpture Symposium: as you walk through Festival site you come across massive snow sculptures carved by artists from all over the world.
Festival is a unique, immersive experience: you have tons of cultural content and interactions with historical interpreters, great times listening to music and an incredible artistic journey through an icy snowing gallery!
One of our major sites during the Festival is the replica of Fort Gibraltar trading posts. Originally constructed at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in 1809-10, Fort Gibraltar was a North West Company trading post. It played an impressive role in the development of the Red River Settlement and the legendary conﬂict between the two fur trading empires: the North West and Hudson’s Bay companies.
Replica spot was rebuilt in the neighbourhood of Saint-Boniface in early 1990s – with the help of Katimavik Participants!
As the pandemic started, we switched to the virtual format. Usually we would have over 10,000 students from different schools, but as we went virtual, we pre-recorded the instructions for teachers and students on how to make all kinds of culturally relevant crafts, and had to put together thousands of kits! Katimavik Participants helped us immensely to put them together, get them ready on time and ship them to the schools. We had schools from all over the country participating!
Katimavik Participants added so much energy, tech-savviness, passion and innovation to the Festival! They helped us to talk to the kids from across the country.
Levi Reed helped us a lot! We had almost 2 weeks of non-stop video calls with schools, and a few times we were working with a 5-minute lag in between presentations. Working in -30 degrees C, wearing masks and switching between calls in seconds! Way to go!