Compiled by the Road Trip Manitoba team
Last Updated on January 18, 2024
For thousands of years, the province of Manitoba has been home to Indigenous people. The name Manitoba is believed to come from either the Assiniboine word minnetoba, the Cree word manitou-wapow, or the Ojibwe word manidoobaa. And as the birthplace of the Métis, one of Manitoba’s heroes is Louis Riel, a Métis man whose legacy has endured for well over a century due to his role in shaping the province.
It’s extremely important to honour and acknowledge Indigenous culture and history in Manitoba, and one way to do so is to participate in Indigenous tourism. From museums to natural wonders, festivals to tours, we’ve rounded up a few of the best Indigenous experiences in Manitoba.
Road Trip Manitoba covers travel through Manitoba, which is made up of Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 Territory, as well as communities that are signatories to Treaty 6 and Treaty 10. Manitoba is home to the original lands of the Anishinaabe, Anish-Ininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak, and Nehethowuk peoples, as well as the homeland of the Métis peoples.
Manitoba Indigenous Experiences
Location: 300 Memorial Blvd, Winnipeg.
Opened in 2021, Qaumajuq is an amazing addition to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and should be at the top of your list for things to do in Winnipeg. Pronounced KOW-ma-yourk, Qaumajuq means “it is bright, it is lit” in Inuktitut.
This architecturally stunning building is home to the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art, and with nearly 14,000 carvings, prints, textiles, paintings, and new media, you can easily spend half a day wandering through the exquisitely curated exhibits.
Riel House National Historic Site
Location: 330 River Rd, Winnipeg.
Head to the neighbourhood of St. Vital to visit the Riel House National Historic Site, where you can see what life was like for the Riel family in the late 1800s. It’s a fantastic place to learn about Métis culture, Louis Riel, and his huge impact on Manitoba, including the Red River Rebellion. If you’re not sure where to start with Indigenous experiences in Manitoba, we recommend starting here. We consider it to be one of the best museums in Winnipeg.
Please note that the Riel House has seasonal hours; always check to see if it’s open before you visit.
Feast Café Bistro
Location: 587 Ellice Ave, Winnipeg.
Run by chef Christa Bruneau-Guenther, Feast Café Bistro is found in Winnipeg’s West End. Tapping into her Cree and Métis roots, Bruneau-Guenther has created a delicious menu where you can sample traditional Indigenous foods with a modern twist.
Try the bannock pizza, eggs “banny” (Eggs Benedict made with bannock), “tipi” tacos, or the incredible “Manitoban” poutine made with shredded bison. These are just a few of the reasons this restaurant made our “Best Restaurants in Winnipeg” list.
Location: 353 Kelsey Boulevard, Churchill (204) 675-2114
Head to Churchill for this one-of-a-kind experience. Only open for a short window every year, Watchee Expeditions is one of the most exclusive tour companies in the world, in that they provide the unbelievable opportunity to view mother polar bears and their cubs. Their wilderness lodge is found adjacent to Wapusk National Park, the biggest polar bear denning area in the world.
Bannock Point Petroforms
Location: Whiteshell Provincial Park.
Found approximately an hour and a half’s drive east of Winnipeg in Whiteshell Provincial Park, the Bannock Point Petroforms are considered sacred ground. Experience the ancient stone figures in the shapes of animals, people, and patterns; each has a meaning, and there are tours available if you want to learn even more about these beautiful messages left by people long ago.
Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail
Location: 1 kilometre south of Provincial Trunk Hwy 12 on 59 Provincial Trunk Hwy, Beaconia.
One of our picks for the best hiking trails in Manitoba, the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail is a boardwalk through the forests and wetlands near Beaconia, Manitoba. With signposts in English and Ojibway, discover the beauty of this landscape and learn about the ecological system that has thrived here for thousands of years. Wheelchair and stroller friendly, it’s a fantastic spot for the whole family to visit.
Please note that the trail is seasonal, and often closes in winter. Dogs are not allowed on the trail.
National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada
Location: 212-5000 Crescent Rd W, Keeshkeemaquah.
You’ll have to book a tour in order to visit the National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada on the Keeshkeemaquah Reserve near Portage la Prairie, but we highly recommend that you make the effort to do so. With such a devastating history of residential schools in Manitoba, it’s vital that we learn about the atrocities that have had such traumatic effects on so many people.
The museum is for residential school survivors, for future generations, and for those looking to learn a bit more about residential schools in the province. Housed in a former residential school, the museum’s mandate is, “From a place of hurting to a place of healing.”
Location: 321 Kelsey Blvd, Churchill.
Experience incredible Churchill with Wapusk Adventures. With multiple tours, including dog sledding, cultural talks, snowshoe walks, Northern Lights viewings, and more, the company aims to provide an educational and fun experience for all those visiting Churchill.
Founded by Dave Daley, winner of the Manitoba Aboriginal Tourism Award in 2009, there’s a lot to learn when you take a tour with Wapusk Adventures.
Manito Ahbee Festival
Location: 472 Madison St, Winnipeg.
This Winnipeg festival, often held in spring, is a celebration of Indigenous arts, culture, and music in Manitoba’s capital. The Manito Ahbee Festival aims to unify, educate, and inspire, and has an exceptional level of performances, including local musicians, pow wows, and the introduction of Miss Manito Ahbee, the festival’s youth ambassador. Manito Ahbee is an Ojibway phrase meaning, “where the Creator sits”, and we highly recommend attending the festival. We consider it to be one of the top things to do in Manitoba.
Boreal Discovery Centre
Location: 110 UCN drive, Thompson.
An ongoing project, the Boreal Discovery Centre is located at the site of the former Thompson zoo, which is found on the traditional territory of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Head here to learn about the history of the surrounding landscape and how people survived here for many thousands of years. You can also learn about the wildlife and botany in the area.
Oral History Tour of the Forks
Location: St. Boniface Cathedral, Winnipeg.
Led by Elders in the Indigenous community, one of the best ways to learn about Indigenous culture in Manitoba is to take an oral history tour of The Forks in Winnipeg. This 90-minute tour encompasses stories, legends, history, and more of the area, which has been a trading post for over 6,000 years due to its location of the merging of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.
Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre
Location: 119 Sutherland Ave, Winnipeg
The Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre is dedicated to promoting awareness and understanding of Indigenous cultures in Manitoba. Here you’ll find a library of over 10,000 books, DVDs, and educational kits, many of which have been donated by the local community.
In the main space of the centre, take in works of art and artifacts by Indigenous artists, while you can find recordings of Indigenous languages in Manitoba from the 1960s in the Heritage Collection. It’s a wonderfully curated and stunning collection of Indigenous culture in Manitoba, and is well worth a visit.
Festival du Voyageur
Location: Voyageur Park, Winnipeg.
One of the most famous festivals in Manitoba, Festival du Voyageur is a ten-day celebration of French Canadian culture, including Métis culture. It’s one of the Indigenous experiences in Manitoba you don’t want to miss. Don’t be afraid of the February chill; there are plenty of tents and indoor spaces where you can warm up. Experience the food, music, clothing, and atmosphere of French Canadian and Métis culture from days past and present.
Teekca’s Boutique – Authentic Indigenous Art & Decor
Location: Three locations in Winnipeg: 1654 St. Matthews Ave, inside The Forks, and inside St. Vital Mall
Originally hailing from Norway House Cree Nation, Teekca’s Boutique has a strong commitment to the Indigenous artisan community. With an impressive list of artists, jewellery makers, and crafters from all over Turtle Island, you can shop home decor, fashion, and medicines. Pick up a pair of handmade mukluks or moccasins, a stylish woven blanket, some beautiful beaded earrings, or some all natural hair oil.
Canadian Plains Gallery
Location: 181 Higgins Ave, Winnipeg.
Make your way to the Canadian Plains Gallery to find a massive selection of Indigenous sculptures, carvings, beadwork, pottery, jewelry, and so much more. With incredible artwork and artifacts for sale, you can purchase handmade ceramic bowls, moccasins, art prints, and more for yourself or as a gift. There are also traditional dance and music demonstrations at the gallery.
Location: 242 La Vérendrye Ave, Churchill.
Often touted as one of the best things to do in Churchill, Itsanitaq museum definitely deserves its place on this list of Indigenous experiences in Manitoba. With an amazing collection of Inuit art and artifacts, take your time wandering around the space. Small but mighty, there’s also a great collection of local art, books, and souvenirs for sale in the gallery shop.
Wyndham Garden Winnipeg Airport
Location: 460 Madison St, Winnipeg
One of the newest of Winnipeg’s hotels, you can find the Wyndham Garden Winnipeg Airport hotel on the city’s first urban reserve, the Long Plain Madison Reserve. With Indigenous culture embedded throughout the hotel, there are 132 rooms to choose from as well as a pool, waterslide, fitness centre, and meeting rooms.
Perfect for exploring the St. James area, including Assiniboine Park and CF Polo Park shopping mall, the hotel also features two fantastic places to eat, the Manoomin Restaurant and the Onishkaan Café. You’ll find many Indigenous ingredients highlighted in the dishes, including bannock, wild berries, pickerel, seeds, bison, and so much more; Executive and Red Seal Chef Jennifer Ballantyne brings her incredible skill to each and every plate.
Brenna Holeman (she/her) has adventured to over 100 countries but is incredibly proud to call Winnipeg home. Brenna spent 16 years travelling solo around the world, living in Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Osaka, Antigua, and London, England. Once a writer and editor for Expedia UK, she is a co-founder of Road Trip Manitoba and also runs This Battered Suitcase, one of the most trusted and respected travel blogs in the world.