UNESCO Chair presenting at this year’s Celebration of Nations

Photo provided courtesy of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

Press release from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
RE: Celebration of Nations, Sept. 6 – 8
August 29,  2019
Click here to download a PDF of this release

In this time of great environmental challenge, featuring accelerated species extinction, extreme weather events, glacier melt and sea level rise, increases in droughts and heat waves, and temperatures that are warming at an alarming rate with forest fires multiplying all around the world, this year’s Celebration of Nations (6-8 September 2019 at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre) rightfully focuses on Empathic Traditions in search of Indigenous cultural solutions to a global cultural problem. For the sake of today’s living and future generations the peoples of the world can no longer afford to exhibit the hubris, self-interest, and ultimately self-destructive behaviour that currently and predominantly forms the basis of their social and economic reality.

“In relation to environmental sustainability one of the hard and daunting realities that came into focus during work to synthesize research on this issue at the Smithsonian Institution, was the identification that culture needed to play a significant role in the solution,” said Artistic Producer Tim Johnson. “What was fascinating to me is that I had been hearing this from Indigenous knowledge keepers for decades. Onondaga Elder Oren Lyons, for example, had distilled this understanding down to four words, ‘Value Change For Survival.’ But now that science is in conformity, unfortunately, time is short and the challenge more daunting.”

As a result, Celebration of Nations has recruited a group of prestigious allies who are working hard to address the complex environmental issues that are challenging the health of our living earth. These include Brock University, the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College, Niagara Parks Commission, Plenty Canada, Ontario Nature, Trent University, Walpole Island Land Trust, Youth Circle for Mother Earth, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and many others. In addition, curators have asked participating artists to present creative works that reflect upon this year’s theme.

“We need to combine knowledge with inspiration if we are to achieve our goal of preserving our Mother Earth for the Seventh Generation,” said Johnson. “Although the task is significant, many incredible people are working hard to remove us from the current path of destruction. Therefore, what we aspire to accomplish this year is to share essential and important information while showcasing the amazing work being done by some of the brilliant, passionate, and dedicated people who are serving on the front lines of our defense.”

In an effort to address this challenge Celebration of Nations offers these informative, engaging, and participatory sessions and programs:

The Great Niagara Escarpment: Indigenous Cultural Map | Sunday, 2 pm, Partridge Hall
Official Premiere of The Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map, a multimedia online resource containing stunning photography, captivating video, and contextual information that identifies important Indigenous historic, cultural, and natural world locations along more than 725 kilometres from Niagara Falls to the western region of Manitoulin Island.

Under the guidance of the project’s Artistic Director Tim Johnson this remarkable resource was developed by Plenty Canada, an Indigenous charitable organization, in association with the Canadian Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to explore how best to engage and include Indigenous peoples in the organization and activation of Biosphere Reserves within Canada. The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve is one of four Biosphere Reserves within Ontario. Each is mapped upon both traditional and historic Indigenous lands, however, little has been done to research, document, and integrate Indigenous land-based knowledge and experience, heritage sites, and areas that are important to the protection of biodiversity into the maps and materials that are used by UNESCO, First Nations, municipalities, educational systems, and other public agencies and organizations with connections to these areas. Project leads will present various aspects and applications of the map.

Living In The Anthropocene | Sunday, 12:30, The Film House
The ever-increasing impact of human activities on Mother Earth has resulted in changes not only in the environment but also the climate. Industrialization, the use of fossil fuels, overconsumption, and overexploitation of natural resources are all pushing the planet toward a new era called Anthropocene. The changes are now profound and, in many cases, irreversible. It appears we have reached a threshold and that the survival of the human and all other species on Earth is in jeopardy. If a global effort is not made to take immediate and radical action to protect and restore ecosystems, more than one million species will disappear over the coming decades. We are talking abouta sixth mass extinction. What are the avenues of solutions to reduce the current pressure we have put on Mother Earth? What actions do participants feel can be undertaken in our communities? Presentations followed by Q&A.

Niagara Adapts: Contending With Climate Change | Saturday, noon, The Film House
Niagara Adapts is an innovative partnership that brings together seven Niagara municipalities — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines, and Welland — with Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) to address what has been called the defining issue of our time. Baseline vulnerability and adaptive capacity assessments will be discussed byhost and moderator Dr. Jessica Blythe in collaboration with municipal partners and members of the Centre. The knowledge generated by this innovative partnership will help inform allocation of resources for climate change planning and adaptation and form the basis of ongoing monitoring and evaluation, which is an essential best practice in climate change adaptation planning. This panel offers Niagara Region residents a unique opportunity to learn about actions being taken to deal with climate change and to ask questions of specialists in the field. Presentations followed by Q&A.

Lighting The Way: Indigenous Renewable Energy Projects | Sunday, 11 am, Robertson Theatre
Increasingly, First Nations have been exploring and developing renewable energy projects as a meanstoward implementing their empathic traditions while creating jobs and generating income for their communities. As cited in a CBC report, a national survey revealed that “nearly one fifth of the country’s power is provided by facilities fully or partly owned and run by Indigenous communities” in a trend that “represents a dramatic increase in the last decade in renewable energy projects like hydro, wind, and solar power.” Among these sector leaders is Six Nations of the Grand River, which partnered with Samsung to develop the Grand Renewable Energy Park consisting of a 150MW wind farm and a 100MW photovoltaic solar farm, that provides enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes. Presentations followed by Q&A.

Science As A Human Right | Sunday, 10 am, MIWSFPA
Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (UN, 1948, p. 7). In November 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unanimously adopted the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers, which replaced the former recommendation of 1974. This Recommendation includes a stronger link between science and society and aims to ensure that research outcomes can best support sustainable development and a more just world. Presentations followed by Q&A.

Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association Film Shorts | Saturday, 4pm, The Film House
This series of short filmsreveals the participation of Indigenous peoples in UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves across Canada as they work to protect and preserve the natural world. Presented by the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA), representing Canada’s 18 biosphere regions, these short films highlight Indigenous efforts to maintain the wondrous beauty and breathtaking features nature has bestowed upon the land from coast to coast to coast. Biosphere Reserve leaders will host the program and facilitate a Q&A session following the films.

Cross-Cultural Partnerships for Mother Earth | Saturday, 2 pm, The Film House
Protecting Mother Earth requires a new consciousness that brings together Indigenous traditions and knowledge systems with western science and conservation practices. This one-hour session will highlight the initiatives of four partner organizations aimed at building cross-cultural understanding, literacy and relationships as a foundation for collective action.
Since 2016, Plenty Canada, Walpole Island Land Trust, the Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences Program at Trent University and Ontario Nature have been hosting gatherings, undertaking research and engaging and supporting youth leaders to create an ethical space for knowledge-sharing and collaboration. This session will focus on two of their current projects, the Youth Circle for Mother Earth and a series of gatherings on protected areas. The session will feature a panel of youth and organizational leaders who will discuss their hopes, plans, challenges, and accomplishments.

The Empathic Poetry Café | Saturday, 4 pm, Robertson Theatre
The Empathic Poetry Café is a 90-minute showcase featuring Indigenous artists from diverse nations performing storytelling and poetry styles addressing unique Indigenous perspectives involving empathic traditions and environmental consciousness. Each presenter will share two, five-minute pieces in a round-robin line-up style rotating through the program to produce a lively and engaging program. Robertson Theatre will be transformed into a poetry coffeehouse with cabaret seating, round tables, sofas, and soft lighting. Groove to the rhymes and rhythms of spoken word artists as they convey their expressions concerning the importance of protecting the environment and on the conduct required of human beings to securea sustainable living earth for future generations.

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy, and respect through the arts.

Kakekalanicks’s mission is to promote Indigenous art and artists to broad-based audiences and acts to educate the public about the deep-rooted beauty and uniqueness of each Nation’s culture, heritage, and traditions through the medium of the Arts.

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy, and respect through the arts.

Categories: Media releases, Updates of the Chair