Celebration of Nations: 11-13 September 2020 Virtual Edition



Niagara’s annual Indigenous arts gathering that celebrates creativity, diversity and resilience.


Rising to the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the annual Celebration of Nations Indigenous Arts Gathering will offer the entire weekend long program online from 11 – 13 September 2020.

“Attendees can still expect the same high-quality diverse programming that distinguishes Celebration of Nations as a premier Indigenous performing, visual, and intellectual arts event,” said Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett. “Onondaga elder Oren Lyons has long warned that we ‘prepare to meet the conditions’ regarding the uncertainties brought about by human-induced environmental damage and destabilization, and we’re heeding his instructions.”

With thoughts about the powerful life-giving force and energy of water and the need to practice responsible stewardship of the region’s environment, the theme for this year’s Celebration of Nations is Mighty Niagara and the Great Lakes WatershedThe dozens of creeks and rivers serving as tributaries to Lakes Erie and Ontario have, over millennia, created the conditions for sustaining hundreds of generations of human societies, reaching back to the Indigenous peoples who first explored and inhabited the peninsula some 13,000 years ago.

The gathering will launch on Friday, September 11 with the Celebration of Nations Outstanding Achievement Awards and many of this year’s programs will focus on this theme by sharing expressions through music, dance, poetry, song lyrics, seminars and symposia, and a variety of interactive sessions that include online craft workshops.

Through it all our sacred fire will be kept alive in the backyard of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, officiated by Indigenous Elders and maintained by faithful Firekeepers.

In addition, this year Celebration of Nations will introduce the Indigenous Niagara Living Museum Tour, an experience that will transport visitors (virtually) to several significant cultural and historical Indigenous locations within the region. From archaeological sites, ancient geologic landmarks, and unique ecosystems, to amazing art installations, important battlegrounds, and Niagara Falls itself, visitors will have the opportunity to follow Niagara’s Indigenous trails in search of knowledge and adventure.

“Last year when we focused our programming on Empathic Traditions and the need for humans to act responsibly toward other living beings, we never envisioned the current circumstances, which have emerged with such devastating effect around the globe, would arrive so quickly,” said Artistic Producer Tim Johnson. “It nevertheless underscores the knowledge and wisdom inherent in core Indigenous cultures that we ignore at our own peril. At this year’s gathering we therefore come together to recognize and honour the life sustaining beauty of the Niagara Peninsula with the intention of engendering respect and intelligent behavior that benefits our communities.”

Celebration of Nations emerges as an opportunity for national and international visitors to actively participate in an inclusive and engaging community gathering that will foster a greater sense of belonging, support of meaningful reconciliation, and leave a lasting legacy of goodwill for future generations.

For more information, please visit: www.CelebrationOfNations.ca or contact CelebrationofNations@FirstOntarioPAC.ca