Since its inception in Quebec in 1985, Innu Nikamu has come to be recognized as the most influential Indigenous arts and musical festival in North America. Its popularity is a testament to the importance music plays in Innu culture.
Innu Nikamu is held annually during early August, in the small Innu community of Uashat Mani-Utenam, located on Quebec’s north coast. One thousand kilometres from the nearest urban centre, Innu Nikamu takes festival-goers on a cultural journey, connecting Indigenous with non-Indigenous musicians, and locals with visitors from outside of the community.
Innu Nikamu, which translates into ‘The Native American Sing,’ showcases more than 150 artists and hosts over 40 musical performances over a period of four days. Traditional and contemporary musicians share the stage, including internationally-renowned artists, dancers, storytellers and poets.
For more than 30 years, the Innu Nikamu Festival — the largest 'dry’ or alcohol-free cultural gathering in North America — has launched local talent from the Innu Nikamu First Nation into the global spotlight.
“When the festival started, it was simply an excuse for local Innus to gather and celebrate our culture. We live so far away,” says Réginal Vollant, festival director and co-founder. “Who would have guessed our grass-roots gathering would become so big, and such an important connector between Indigenous people and world? Not us!”