Celebration of Nations' 2022 Programming to Highlight the Wisdom and Contributions of Indigenous Women

9-11 Sept in downtown St. Catharines

Thursday 18 August 2022 – Celebration of Nations’ 2022 theme, Honouring Our Matriarchs: Restoring The Balance, will shine a spotlight on the rich wisdom and beauty of matriarchs when the Indigenous Arts Gathering returns for its sixth year to St. Catharines’ FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) from Fri 9 Sept to Sun 11 Sept 2022.
From concerts showcasing the talents of Indigenous women including legendary Indigenous icon Buffy Sainte-Marie, vocal powerhouse Shawnee Kish and local female drum group Strong Water Singers, to sunrise ceremonies and sacred fire teachings hosted by respected female Elders, strong female voices will echo throughout the FirstOntario PAC all weekend long. 


In honour of the female Indigenous voices silenced far too soon, The Red Dress Exhibit will share and honour the untold stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and 2Spirit (MMIWG2S) from Niagara and Western New York with a powerful and surreal collection of 13 empty red dresses. This exhibit includes an audio documentary for each dress and a special Her Moccasins Talk teaching on Sat 10 Sept at noon with some of the project’s contributors. 
The closing Drums Across Canada event will also serve to reinforce the vital role that matriarchs play in creating a world that is more balanced and harmonious. The live and virtual broadcast event will unite drum circles from eight different performing arts venues paired with Indigenous drumming groups across the country to create a rhythmic message echoing unity, peace, respect and friendship to help forge the paradigm shift needed to create transformative and sustainable change for the future.
Celebration of Nations Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett notes, “Our 2022 Celebration of Nations theme, Honouring Our Matriarchs: Restoring The Balance, guided us in the creation of programming that reminds us of the essential role that women have played and continue to play in the survival of Indigenous traditions and culture.  The life givers and water carriers from Mother Earth and Grandmother Moon to our grandmothers, mothers and aunties — these are all our Matriarchs we honour for being our protectors, for guiding us, challenging us, lifting us, supporting us and nurturing us.  Honouring our matriarchs is giving them the path to reclaim the ancestral ways of our cultural responsibilities based on respect, reciprocity, balance and autonomy; the road of healing lays in the path of our matriarchs.”

This year’s Honouring Our Matriarchs: Restoring The Balance theme will be woven into over 40 safe, in-person events, many with virtual participation options, including:

  • Hands-on workshops, storytelling, poetry and discussion sessions
  • Music, drumming and dance demonstrations
  • An Indigenous Interactive Discovery Zone
  • Marquee concerts in Partridge Hall from Buffy Sainte-Marie with Shawnee Kish and Strong Water Singers, and The First Ladies of Jazz concert experience
  • The Red Dress Exhibit, an immersive exhibit honouring the stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S) from 13 Indigenous Peoples in Western New York and Niagara
  • The 2022 Celebration of Nations Outstanding Achievement Awards
  • The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network panel
  • Film screenings of The Water Walker (Canada, 2020. Directed by James Burns. 13 min NR. Starring: Autumn Peltier), Blood and Water: A Reclamation Story (Canada, 2020. Directed by Layla Staats. 23 min. NR. Starring: Layla Black, Logan Staats, Tehahenteh Miller) and family-friendly animated NFB shorts by Indigenous filmmakers
  • A Drums Across Canada closing event (live and livestreamed) that will unite drum circles from eight different performing arts venues paired with Indigenous drumming groups across the country in traditional call and response to foster healing, send love and drum for the children’s spirits who never made it home, for our ancestors, our matriarchs, MMIWG2S, the next generation, for healing, and for wisdom.

Celebration of Nations was created as an opportunity for local, national and international visitors to actively participate in an inclusive and engaging community gathering to foster a greater sense of belonging, support of meaningful reconciliation, and engender a lasting legacy of goodwill. Thousands of local residents and visitors have participated in Celebration of Nations annually. The 2020 + 2021 virtual and hybrid editions attracted more than 60,000 viewers from across the globe.

Celebration of Nations 2022 programming schedule is available at



Celebration of Nations is part of a long-term vision of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Kakekalanicks and the City of St. Catharines. It aims to build on the Two Row Wampum that promotes all Nations walking together, in parallel, with respect, compassion and understanding to cultivate an inclusive community for our shared future. It is intended to provide opportunities for national and international visitors to actively participate in an inclusive and engaging community gathering that will foster a greater sense of belonging, support meaningful reconciliation, and leave a lasting legacy of goodwill for future generations.

Kakekalanicks’ 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 is a 95,000 square foot cultural complex comprised of four state-of-the-art performance venues and an outdoor space located downtown St. Catharines, Ontario on the shared traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and many other Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. The PAC hosts a signature presentation series of international and local performing artists and plays a vital role in the renaissance of downtown St. Catharines, serving as the catalyst in modernizing the area and reinforcing the brilliance of Niagara region’s diverse cultural cluster. The PAC aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy and respect through the arts.


For all media inquiries and interviews please contact:
Jordy Yack Communications Coordinator,
FirstOntario PAC 905-688-5601 x3614,

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About the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

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.

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