Celebration of Nations comes to St. Catharines this weekend

Celebration of Nations photo

With the lighting of a sacred fire at a Sunrise Ceremony Friday, Sept. 6/2019, the third annual Celebrations of Nations takes over downtown St. Catharines Sept. 6-8/2019.

“This gathering of Indigenous arts, culture, and tradition will feature more than 40 events all weekend in downtown St. Catharines, within the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre’s four venues, as well as The Mann Raceway Plaza (PAC’s outdoor gathering space commonly referred to as “the Backyard”), and within spaces at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts,” a press release from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) said.

Saturday morning at 10 a.m. the Procession of Nations will be walking the route of an ancient and enduring indigenous trail, walking down St. Paul and Carlisle St. to the PAC.

“This proud display of the Indigenous community lead by seven Eagle Staff Carriers, Elders, Clan Mothers and honourable leaders of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community,” the release said. “All are welcome to witness the glorious sights and sounds, and the breadth and diversity of Indigenous peoples who live within the Niagara region and who travelled long distances from across Turtle Island to participate.”

At the PAC Saturday and Sunday, there will be free music, storytelling and teachings between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Niagara Métis Council will also be setting up a traditional encampment and invite the community “to enjoy bannock and banter with them at the fire each morning.”

“New this year, the Landscape of Nations 360° Discovery Zone will feature hands-on opportunities to learn about Indigenous traditions and culture, including all sorts of opportunities to make, smell, touch and feel with Small Scale Farms, Willowbank Love Garden, Fort Erie Friendship Centre, Niagara Native Friendship Centres, Niagara Falls Museum, Welland Museum and a wampum chalk project,” the release said. “In addition, 14 Indigenous artisan vendors will share their wares and food will be provided by the Niagara Regional Native Centre with proceeds going to support the Nurturing Our Roots Traditional Pow Wow in Montebello Park on 5 October.”

This year the Celebration of Nations has also expanded its workshop offerings. There is still availability to create corn husk dolls and learn the ancient art of birch bark biting.

“The Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle will also join the gathering to lead a fun bingo-style language lab to teach Anishnaabemowin words,” the release said. “For lovers of Blues music, Elaine Bomberry and Murray Porter offer a free Rez Blues Workshop on Saturday at noon. Aspiring songwriters will be led in a songwriting workshop with acclaimed artist Jace Martin at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.”

You must preregister for all workshops.

Following the screening of the Weengushk Film Institute Shorts + Pikutiskaau (Mother Earth) at The Film House on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Brock University’s Chancellor, award-winning artist, actor and film director Shirley Cheechoo will be present for a Q + A session.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, the Lightning Lacrosse Zone will be on St. Paul St. from 12 – 4 p.m with demonstrations.

For further activities and information see the Celebration of Nations website.