Friday 10 September at dawn until – Sunday 12 September at sunset // The Backyard at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
Brian Kon will bring elements of a traditional Métis encampment to Celebration of Nations, living and sharing the culture as their Métis ancestors would have in the early 1800s.
Brian Kon is a leader within the Metis Nation and within the local Indigenous Community. He is past Senator and past Chair for Niagara Region Métis Council. He has been the Métis Ambassador for the Celebration of Nations since it began in 2017. During that time Brian has actively participated in the annual celebration as part of the Metis Encampment that served as the backdrop for many outdoor staged events. Brian is also one of two Fire Keepers who watch and protect the Fire as the community comes together.
An advocate for education, Brian is a well-known speaker. Presentations have been made in partnership with Niagara Falls History Museum, City of Niagara Falls, Welland History Museum, Niagara Parks, Brock University and many other local, provincial and national organizations. In 2018 Brian took his passion for educating to his new role as the Indigenous Lead for Niagara Catholic District School Board where he helps educate both students and teachers about Indigenous culture and history.
Indian Residential Schools have become a major platform Brian uses to raise awareness of the true history of Turtle Island and the impact of colonization on generations of Indigenous people. Since 2019 Brian has been instrumental in turning Niagara Falls orange for Orange Shirt Day. Using the internationally recognized Niagara Falls, Brian has helped bring an international audience to this important subject. While the USA has yet to hold their own Truth & Reconciliation hearings, the movement has spread across the Falls and is acknowledged on both the Canadian and American sides. In 2022, Phyllis Webstad, the woman whose story is the Orange Shirt Story, is coming to Niagara to be a part of this powerful representation of our respect to the 150,000 children taken from their families and sent to the Indian Residential Schools. Phyllis’ visit will be highlighted at many events leading up to September 30th; including presentations to schools child as well as a public presentation both of which are held at and co-sponsored by the First Ontario Performing Art Centre. Together with the Niagara Indigenous Community and the support of local organizations and businesses many other Survivors will have an opportunity to share their stories as they participate in this healing journey.
As a visual artist, Brian’s art pays homage to his Cree/Métis ancestors through his paintings, which have been on display across Canada, including a current piece on extended display in Ontario’s legislature and the First Ontario Performing Art Centre. Proud of what his art represents, Brian provides workshops in schools and throughout community as a way of telling the story of Métis people, but also to draw attention to important issues that face Indigenous people – Indian Residential Schools, Two Spirited people, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and Gender Diverse Individuals, as well as creating pieces that reflect many Indigenous teachings.
Brian was on the organizing committee for the Landscape of Nations monument (2016) – a tribute to the role Indigenous people played in the War of 1812. As a member of Landscape of Nations, Brian is now working with a dedicated team of educators, historians and community members who are re-writing the history of the War of 1812 through an Indigenous lens that will become part of school curriculum across the country. Brian’s interest in Indigenous education includes his participation in advisory committees for the Indigenous Partnership Council for the 2022 Canada Summer Games, Indigenous Education Management Circle (Niagara College), Aboriginal Education Council (Brock University).
Until taking the position with Niagara Catholic, most of Brian’s career had been focused on advancing the lives of people with disabilities in Canada and the United States. He has his own consulting company (Sterling Frazer Associates) where he also hosts the accessible travel website, Accessible Niagara. Brian helped write the Customer Service Standard for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. He is internationally recognized as an industry expert on issues relating to people with disabilities, the environment in which they live and work, as well as the technologies they use. He is a regular reviewer for a number of different US federal agencies as they transfer technologies from their initial use to benefiting people with disabilities.
Brian is a past President for the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls – Sunrise. He is a two time Paul Harris Recipient. He was named a AODA Champion (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) by the province of Ontario; Patrick Cummings Award of Excellence from the City of Niagara Falls; and, recently (2020) named one of the 50 Faces of Lincoln for their 50th town anniversary.