Students get a free pass as Celebration of Nations kicks off

Brock University students will have free access to the sea of culture set to immerse downtown St. Catharines this weekend during the annual Celebration of Nations.

The festival, which runs from Friday, Sept. 6 to Sunday, Sept. 8, is offering free tickets to all Brock students to encourage attendance at its many performances, sessions and films.

Free tickets can be claimed by calling the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) at 1-855-515-0722 or visiting the box office at 250 St. Paul St. Students can reserve one free ticket per event using their Brock ID card.

Faculty and staff from the University are contributing to Celebration of Nations in a variety of ways, hosting a number of the sessions throughout the three-day event.

The Brock contingent kicks off Saturday, Sept. 7 with Niagara Adapts: Contending with Climate Change, a session hosted by Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor in the University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). Niagara Adapts is an innovative partnership that brings the ESRC together with seven Niagara municipalities — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines and Welland — with the aim of reducing the risks associated with climate change in the region.

The panel, moderated by Blythe and including municipal representatives and members of the ESRC, will take questions from the crowd and discuss actions being taken to deal with climate change.

Also on Saturday, Brock Associate Professor of Educational Studies Spy Dénommé-Welch and musician Catherine Magowan will bring their music to the PAC. Unsettled Scores presents Contraries: A Chamber Requiem and Radar will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m.

The evening will include the premiere of Radar, a new work for oboe, bassoon, horn, bass trombone, guitar and timpani that explores the conceptual idea of a palindrome, and the notion of being targeted while invisible. The piece is a musical response to the violence experienced by Indigenous people, particularly women, Two Spirit and trans-identified persons.

The night will also include Contraries: A Chamber Requiem, which tells the story of a young boy and his quest to relearn his gifts. After escaping the grip of a tyrannical schoolmaster, he embarks on a journey to fulfil his heroic destiny and transform into a sacred being.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, Brock Biological Sciences Professor and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur will host two sessions downtown.

The first, Science as a Human Right, will be held at 10 a.m. in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts lecture hall. The event will include a panel featuring members of the Brock and wider Niagara community who will discuss science as a human right, ideas on how research should be communicated and knowledge transferred from research done in universities and colleges. 

Panelists include Vasseur; Christine Daigle, Brock Philosophy Professor Director of the Posthumanism Research Institute; Meredith DeCock, Brock Sustainability and Society master’s student; Aniqah Zowmi, Brock Master of Arts in Social Justice and Equity Studies student; Rodney Haring, Assistant Professor of Oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Patric Robson, Niagara Region Commissioner of Integrated Community Planning.

A second panel, Living in the Anthropocene, will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the PAC’s Film House. The session will explore the world’s environmental and climate changes due to the ever-increasing impact of human activities.

Before a Q&A period, presenters will share their thoughts on potential solutions to reduce current pressures on the planet and actions that can be taken in local communities to aid those efforts. In addition to Vasseur and Daigle, panelists include Catherine Longboat, Assistant Professor in Brock’s Tecumseh Centre for Research and Education, and Julie Gemuend, who is pursuing her PhD at Brock in Interdisciplinary Humanities.

A selection of student shorts from the Weengushk Film Institute, a Manitoulin Island organization accredited by Brock and dedicated to unlocking the creative potential of Indigenous youth, will be featured on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Film House.

Following Saturday’s shorts will be a screening of Pikutiskaau (Mother Earth), a feature-length documentary directed by Brock University Chancellor and award-winning artist Shirley Cheechoo that traces the Cree philosophy of Mother Earth and the responsibilities of the Cree people to honour her. Cheechoo will host a Q&A with the crowd after the screening.

On Sunday at 11 a.m., the co-founders of the Supports of Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt, Celeste Smith and Jodielynn Harrison, will offer a decolonized reading of the experiences at Short Hills Provincial Park during the annual Haudenosaunee deer harvest. Harrison is a teaching assistant at Brock and co-founder of the Indigenous Solidarity Coalition at the University.

A full schedule of Celebration of Nations events is available online.

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