May 16, 2018 12:04 pm
Updated: May 16, 2018 12:10 pm

Miss Manito Ahbee honours Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Global News Morning previews the 2018 Manito Ahbee Youth Festival and meets the Miss Manito Ahbee Youth Ambassador, Chante Speidel. She tells us about her role honouring missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada.

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Chante Speidel is proud to carry on what’s become a family tradition.

Speidel is finishing up her tenure as Miss Manito Ahbee Youth Ambassador after being crowned in May 2017.

Her schedule will be busy with speaking arrangements for the next few days as part of the 13th annual Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg which celebrates Indigenous art, culture and music.

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Before she was crowned, Speidel, from Saptoweyak Cree Nation, had seen what it took to serve in the role as her sisters Dakota (2008) and Sage (2010) were also youth ambassadors.

The youth ambassador honours the memory of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and every four years the position pays tribute to a different missing or murdered woman.

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As part of the position, the ambassador travels to Pow Wow celebrations and other events throughout the year relaying their message.

For the last four years, the life of Lorna Blacksmith has been honoured.  Blacksmith went missing in Winnipeg on January 12, 2012 and after numerous searches from her family and community, her body was found in June of that year.

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After this year, a crown and sash worn by Miss Manito Ahbee will be presented to Blacksmith’s family and another woman will be honoured, starting next year.

Speidel said the role is also about encouraging youth.

“It’s about bringing attention to youth voice,” she said. “And encouraging youth to do more, in education and in regular life.

“And I really wanted to bring awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and take action.”

Outside serving in her role, she’s looking forward to the festival.

“I’ve been going to the Pow Wow for 12 years,” Speidel said.

“It’s a place to gather for not just Indigenous people, but all people, and gathers all us together to celebrate song, dance and life.”

The next Manito Ahbee Youth Amabassador will be crowned on Saturday during the International Pow Wow Event at the RBC Convention Centre.

Festival history

 Manito Ahbee is an Ojibway word meaning “where the creator sits” and is also the name of a sacred site located in the Western Whiteshell area of Manitoba. It is considered one of the most important traditional gathering sites in North America.

The festival features an International Pow Wow Competition, a jigging competition, an Art Challenge and will host the Indigenous Music Awards.

Manito Ahbee runs until Sunday.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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