New workshops at Festival du Voyageur

Bonjour Manitoba

The Festival du Voyageur’s new series of craft workshops are now called Fayt à min, a Michif name meaning “made by hand.”

Colin Mackie, Director of Heritage and Education Programs at Festival du Voyageur, explains: “We wanted to offer something from the Métis culture showcasing both the past and making things by hand.” The Festival team therefore added a few new features to the already well-established Voyageur Apprenticeship workshops.

“We’ve been developing this kind of workshop on Métis traditions and knowledge for a number of years,” says Mackie. “But this year we partnered with CDEM, and they helped us find a name for them.”

While the Fayt à min workshops will make their debut at Festival du Voyageur 2020, which runs from February 14 to 23, the goal is to offer them year-round.

Starting February 15, public demonstrations by artisans will take place each morning of the Festival, followed by afternoon workshops.

“We’ll be offering a wide array of workshops,” says the Heritage and Education Program director. “These include those from previous years, such as Métis beading, along with some new ones. For instance, for Louis Riel Day, an artisan will be giving a traditional hide tanning demonstration. There will also be paper marbling, which is a decorative colouring technique using dyes, and a workshop on Indigenous drum making. We’ve got something for all ages and interests.”

Louis Gagné has participated in Festival du Voyageur for the past 25 years as a member of the Compagnie de La Vérendrye living history group. This year, he will be present at the Fayt à min workshops: “My role is to play a gendarme, or constable, at Fort Gibraltar. I dress in period clothing and explain my role to festival-goers. I’ll be giving black powder flintlock musket demonstrations, which are an opportunity to showcase those skills. It’s always interesting to see the public’s reaction.”

Fabrice Siaux will be giving tinsmithing workshops, teaching participants how to make tin lanterns. “It’s great that people are interested in exploring these skills from the past. Tinsmithing is a trade you don’t really see anymore. These workshops give the public a glimpse of history. Creating a lantern will be a memorable experience.”

The Fayt à min workshops are free of charge, but there is a maximum of 5-12 participants per workshop (1).

Fayt a min is all about sharing knowledge with all generations,” says Colin Mackie. “But we don’t want it to be only elders teaching younger people. We want to promote intergenerational and intercultural exchanges. Most importantly, we want to give everyone the opportunity to have a good time doing something different.”

(1) Same-day in-person registration following the morning demonstration.

CDEM’s Bonjour Manitoba team was able to support this project with funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada and Travel Manitoba.