Northern Manitoba festival features big-name bands and ‘a lot’ of bannock | CBC News

An annual festival in northeastern Manitoba brought all the big and little bannocks to the yard last week.

Celebrating 42 years running, organizers said this year’s edition of the St. Theresa Point Bannock Festival was one of the largest the fly-in First Nation community has seen, with two big-name headlining musical acts and so much bannock made, organizers could not even guess how much was actually fried for the festival.

“I don’t know — a lot,” festival organizer Ivan Flett said with a laugh.

While the annual festival regularly hosts boat and canoe races, marathons and tug-of-war competitions, and has had performers in the past such as “Elvis of the North” Ernest Monias, organizers this year decided to bring in two Juno-winning acts — country singer-songwriter Johnny Reid and Vancouver-based pop-rock band Marianas Trench.

“The last year or two, I kind of felt I had this drive and I wanted to do more for my community. I wanted to give youth the opportunity to, you know, experience something new,” Flett said.

A group stands on the stage before a concert starts.
The music festival committee brought in two Juno-winning acts — country singer-songwriter Johnny Reid and Vancouver-based pop rock band Marianas Trench —for this year’s Bannock Festival. (Submitted by Clarence Flett)

Last year, leaders spoke out about the struggles St. Theresa Point has faced, including dealing with illegal drugs in the community, after the deaths of two young girls.

Bringing performers like Reid and Marianas Trench to the youth, while also showcasing what kind of opportunities exist for them, either as technicians or musicians, is important to Flett.

Born and raised in St. Theresa Point, the 25-year-old has been with his high sweetheart since they were teenagers. They’re now raising four kids together in the community in the Island Lake region, about 465 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

“My main goal was to give youth that opportunity and for more exposure, you know,” Flett said.

A baby sits on top of shoulders in an outdoor concert crowd. Trees in the background.
The next generation takes part in the 42nd annual Bannock Festival. Organizers said they hoped this year’s festival would help expose young people to new opportunities. (Submitted by Clarence Flett)

The festival is also about the frybread.

“Big and little bannocks” are featured at the festival, said St. Theresa Point Chief Raymond Flett, noting the big bannock is cooked in a giant frying pan, while the community comes together to cook “a lot” of little bannocks.

Hundreds of festival-goers attended last week, including residents of St. Theresa Point and visitors from other northern Manitoba communities like Norway House Cree Nation and Pimicikamak Cree Nation.

“We had a week-long celebration bringing people together, having fun with everybody — it was awesome,” the chief told CBC.

A punky band presents a chief wearing a headdress with a signed drum.
Canadian pop-rock band Marianas Trench gave St. Theresa Point Chief Raymond Flett a signed drum. (Submitted by Clarence Flett)

It was an inspiring year for the festival, especially with all the young people involved, he said. As a former high school principal, Chief Flett said big events like last week’s are positive for the community’s young people.

“I want to empower the youth — it’s them that are going to be taking over as they get older. It’s about capacity-building and showing them that we care about them,” he said.

Ivan Flett said helping organize the festival this year was a learning process, but one that was made easy with the support from the rest of the committee and volunteers.

And he hopes to see more youth get involved in future festivals.

“Let’s do something extraordinary for the community.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button