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.
Within the spirit of Canada 150 and mindful of a societal imperative to reconcile that history with Indigenous peoples, we have designed an opportunity to come together to learn and celebration. multi-faceted program to celebrate the diversity, creativity, resilience, vitality, and agency of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
Planned as a year-long program Celebration of Nations will reach a crescendo on September 8, 9, and 10, 2017 with a three-day Gathering of Indigenous Arts, Culture, and Tradition that will showcase a wide variety of Indigenous arts and artists, ranging from traditional and contemporary music, dance performance, and visual arts to film screenings, creative workshops, a distinguished speaker series, and hands-on activities for both children and adults.
Headlining a series of exciting concert performances will be the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie, recipient of numerous accolades, honours, and awards, including the Polaris Music Prize, Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and multiple JUNO Awards. This and more than 20+ other compelling performances, interactive activities, speakers, and participatory events, have been curated and juried by Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett (Métis) and Artistic Producer Tim Johnson (Mohawk), with support of the Celebration of Nations Advisory Committee and Performing Arts Centre programming staff.
Canada’s sesquicentenary and the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission serve as the context for programming. The curators have endeavoured to pull back the curtain, in some cases quite literally, to reveal and commemorate Indigenous contributions to Canada’s defence and formation as well as to display the continuity and scope of Indigenous influence upon Canadian society today.
The program will culminate in the launch of a significant public art project on the grounds of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. The artwork will contribute to the heritage, identity, and character of downtown St. Catharines including St. Paul Street, which was originally a trade route for Niagara’s Indigenous people. The final selected design will be an engaging work of contemporary art that embraces traditional and modern themes within a functional urban space, creating a legacy for the future.
The great Métis leader Louis Riel once said, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” Through the Celebrations of Nations programming delivered at this new state-of-the-art venue, that vision comes true.