With the current turn of events this year we have added a virtual twist. The 2020 theme is our precious FRESH WATER – The Mighty Niagara and Great Lakes Watershed. This year we have asked our Indigenous brothers and sisters and non-Indigenous allies from across the globe to record themselves taking a drink from a glass of water in a short video to signify that we are all drinking from the same cup, that water connects all and water is life.
Michele Elise will read the poem that Chief Stacey Laforme (Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation) created in honour of Grandmother Josephine and the Water Walkers.
We are also honoured to have Nicole Joy Fraser (She/ her; Settler, Dene Zaa, Nehiyaw and Métis) share Water Songs with us as part of the procession and throughout the weekend. Nicole has had the incredible opportunity to work as a professional performing artist for the last twenty years across Turtle Island and beyond. She’s established herself with such celebrated companies as Mirvish Productions (Mamma Mia!), Factory Theatre, Native Earth, Red Sky, The Blyth Festival, The Charlottetown Festival, The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, The 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, the Smithsonian Museum in NYC and most recently was invited to the Acting Company of the Stratford Festival.
Nicole also enjoyed living across the Atlantic for a few years where she performed in the multi-award-winning musical Jerry Springer-The Opera in the West End and in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast which toured the UK and had a run in Athens. As a 60’s scoop witness she yearned to make her way home and is forever grateful to have premiered and collaborated on many roles within Indigenous Theatre and Opera since, all of which have helped her reclaim her Indigenous Identity. Nicole recently won a Dora award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble as a featured artist with Soundstreams/Signal Theatre’s production of “Two Odysseys.”
Nicole currently lives in Niagara with her partner and son and has been grateful for her local work with Essential Collective Theatre, Carousel Players, In the Soil Arts Festival, First Ontario Performing Arts Centre and Celebration of Nations. She has been a helper in the community having worked at Niagara Regional Native Centre, Niagara Chapter Native Women and in the Indigenous Education department at Niagara College. Nicole continues to look forward to promoting and sharing Indigenous ways of knowing and as a proud Bear clan member and Hand drum carrier, supporting each other through healing and the arts.
Nicole Joy Fraser, Michele-Elise Burnett, Tim Johnson