22 May 2019 – The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and Kakekalanicks Indigenous Arts & Consultancy present the 3rd Annual Celebration of Nations, a gathering of Indigenous arts, culture, and tradition in downtown St. Catharines from 6–8 September 2019.

The gathering will feature music, theatre, dance, film, interactive workshops, and teachings to honour and celebrate Indigenous culture. A call for artists and artisans has just been released to promote opportunities for Indigenous artists and community members to share their gifts with the larger community. Celebration of Nations Call for Artists and Artisans closes on Friday 28 June 2019.

The 2019 edition programming will be based on the theme of Empathetic Traditions, which will examine and present the intellectual and artistic expressions of the cultural foundations of Niagara’s Indigenous peoples as related to the natural world, environmental ethics, and sustainability. Gatherings of the Indigenous stewards of Canada’s UNESCO biosphere reserves, climate scientists, and public policy leaders responsible for maintaining the Great Lakes watershed, to musical and theatrical performances curated around the theme, will resonate during the gathering. The 2019 edition will also develop additional workshop offerings following two years of sold-out workshop programming to compliment a curated program of Indigenous music, theatre, dance, and teachings.

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Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett (Métis) and Artistic Producer Tim Johnson (Mohawk) shape the programmatic vision for Celebration of Nations, with the support of community advisors and PAC programming staff.

“We’re honoured to continue our partnership with the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre,” said Kakekalanicks President and Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett. “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 state-of-the-art venue, is a manifestation of that vision and serves as affirmation of the powerful insights and meaningful expression of contemporary Indigenous artists.”

The inaugural Celebration of Nations event attracted more than 7,500 visitors to its festivities in September of 2017. The 2018 Celebration of Nations expanded on this success by showcasing a variety of exceptional Indigenous arts and artists, ranging from traditional and contemporary music, dance and visual arts to film screenings, creative workshops, teaching, and hands-on activities for both children and adults.

“As a collaborative cross-cultural partnership Celebration of Nations has found a welcome reception at the crossroads of Indigenous history in St. Catharines, and particularly on St. Paul Street, the route of an ancient and enduring Indigenous trail,” said Artistic Producer Tim Johnson. “In particular, by holding this annual gathering here where the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre now stands, we honour our shared legacy while expressing mutual respect and affirmation during an era of truth and reconciliation.”

Celebration of Nations is an opportunity for Niagara residents and visitors to actively participate in an inclusive and engaging community gathering, built on the Two Row Wampum teaching that promotes walking together, in parallel, with respect, compassion and understanding to cultivate an inclusive community.