Celebration of Nations launches virtual and in-person events for fifth year run

NIAGARA REGION — Celebration of Nations, the Niagara region’s highly regarded gathering of Indigenous Arts, Culture and Tradition has announced the full schedule for its hybrid edition of in-person programming at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre as well as virtual offerings from September 10-12.

“Since COVID-19 emerged, it has become even more clear how important community and the arts are to maintaining healthy minds and hearts,” said Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett. “Artists are often at the forefront of speaking truth to power while also providing purpose for humans to gather to fulfill our ancient and ingrained need for connection. I am thrilled that we are able to provide this hybrid edition to once again bring community together to learn, share and reflect on the deep wisdom of Indigenous cultures.”

Tickets are on sale now for two in-person concert experiences in Partridge Hall, a first for the PAC since last fall. Kicking it off is Friday’s concert event TREATY: A Reconciliation Revelry, a new creation by Celebration of Nations Artistic Producer Tim Johnson that features an ensemble of renowned and award-winning Indigenous and allied musicians coupled with filmed reflections on reconciliation and the Indigenous experience.

“The program’s stories and messages, conveyed through video, narrative and music are situated in the realm of contemporary issues and events, but that provide audiences with historical context for understanding Indigenous experiences and Indigenous realities today,” said Artistic Producer Tim Johnson. “Brief film segments featuring Indigenous and Canadian leaders in civil society, education, culture and the arts speak to the themes, thereby building a story that seeks to pave the way forward for Truth and Reconciliation.”

Saturday’s concert experience features an evening with prominent Indigenous singer/songwriters Amanda Rheaume and Logan Staats.

The 2021 workshop series offers hands-on opportunities to learn from skilled, Indigenous artists and Knowledge Keepers. In partnership with 101 Deweguns Living Hearts Legacy, four sanding workshops will take place over the weekend as part of this longer-term project with the vision of healthy and continuous reconciliation. Additional workshops include: Dressing Talking Sticks Jackie Labonte and Oliver Nobosin; Medicine Wheel Bracelets with April Mitchell-Boudreau; Creating a Sculpture from the Land led by Soaring Eagles Secondary Program Graduate Students; Nokomis 215+ Moccasin Project Workshop with Shannon Cotter; and a virtual workshop offering of Wiigwaas (Birchbark) Beaded Earrings with Nikki Shawana.

Throughout the weekend, safe and free activities have been planned in the backyard of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, where a Sacred Fire will also burn, officiated by Indigenous Elders with Sunrise Ceremonies each day, and cared for by faithful Firekeepers Fred Bowering and Brian Kon.

Highlights include a very special, free, not-to-be-missed presentation of Cris Derksen’s Orchestral Powwow featuring Chippewa Travellers and members of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra on Saturday 11 September at 4pm. And among still many other programs, Victoria Poet Laureate Janet Marie Rogers returns to curate and perform the Empathic Poetry Café live in the backyard with a group of creative and expressive Indigenous writers at 6pm that evening. Saturday’s program will be hosted by One Dish, One Mic, the popular radio show that explores Indigenous issues from CKTB 610 AM.

Celebration of Nations is an opportunity for local, national, and international visitors to actively participate in an inclusive and engaging community gathering that fosters a greater sense of belonging, support of meaningful reconciliation, and that engenders a lasting legacy of goodwill. The 2020 virtual edition attracted more than 36,000 viewers from across the globe.

Additionally, the PAC is pleased to welcome the community back into the facility for performances and workshops. Tickets and workshop registrations are available through our online Box Office. In keeping with all regulatory provincial and public health regulations, health and safety protocols will be in place including reduced capacities, enhanced cleaning protocols and mandatory mask wearing in all spaces.

“The past 18 months have been a struggle for many artists and arts workers, losing the

direct, live connection that provides both purpose and sustenance to their very being,” said Colleen Smith, Executive Director of FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. “This year’s Celebration of Nations is our official return to live performance and the art of gathering. We are grateful for the opportunity to honour, celebrate and grow our relationship with Indigenous peoples while supporting the return of live arts and culture to our community.”

Celebration of Nations is part of a long-term vision of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Kakekalanicks and the City of St. Catharines to build on the Two Row Wampum that promotes all Nations walking together, in parallel, with respect, compassion and understanding to cultivate an inclusive community for our shared future. It is intended to provide opportunities for national and international visitors to actively participate in an inclusive and engaging community gathering that will foster a greater sense of belonging, support meaningful reconciliation, and leave a lasting legacy of goodwill for future generations.

There will be a livestream on the FirstOntario PAC YouTube and Facebook Channels as well as on the Celebration of Nations Facebook pages.

For a full schedule of all this weekend’s events see https://www.celebrationofnations.ca.

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