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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Partnerships lead the way this summer at the FirstOntario PAC

Community is at the heart of everything we do at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Though unable able to gather in our beautiful venues, we are proud to share upcoming virtual collaborations with many of the local social service and arts organizations that are championing a brighter collective future for Niagara.

Thursday’s #NiagaraPerforms will continue to feature the work of community organizations and kicks off tonight, Thursday 23 July at 7pm, with a special performance and conversation presented by Brock University’s Student Justice Centre and Human Rights and Equity.

“This is a time of flux in our community and we are determined to find ways to be in conversation with one another, to ask ourselves and each other how to be good neighbours, good allies and good citizens,” says Annie Wilson, Programming Supervisor.

The FirstOntario PAC is proud to partner with Matter of Black, BlackOwned905 and other local community leaders and organizations on a virtual edition of #EmancipationDaySTC Celebrations that is intended to bring back a piece of history that once celebrated Black culture and united St. Catharines and beyond. The program will begin on Thursday 30 July with Local Reflections on Racism Speakers Series, presented as part of a long-term partnership commitment between the PAC and the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre and Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association.

“The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is committed to amplifying and supporting the work of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour artists, businesses and organizations through action. We are committed to prioritizing the eradication of racism with specific actions through partnerships like this, that promote inclusivity, equity, accessibility and that foster and celebrate diversity,” says Colleen Smith, Executive Director of the FirstOntario PAC.

The full #EmancipationDaySTC weekend includes a robust program of speakers, films and performances and will feature a virtual market of Black owned businesses.

As part of the #EmancipationDaySTC programs, the PAC has partnered with Brock University to present It Takes a Riot: Race, Rebellion, Reform, a short documentary that marks the 25th anniversary of the Yonge Street Uprising. The film will be screened virtually on Friday 31 July at 7pm with a post-screening Q&A to follow featuring Dr. Simon Black, Assistant Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University and film co-producer, Idil Abdillahi, film co-producer and Assistant Professor of Social Work at Ryerson University, Dr. Dolana Mogadime, Professor of Education, Brock University, Lennox Farrell, retired teacher and founding member of Black Action Defense Committee, Dr. Jean B. Ntakirutimana, Linguist and Language professor at Brock University, and founding member of the Brock African Heritage Recognition Committee and Dr. Gervan Fearon, President and Vice-Chancellor Brock University. The Q&A will be moderated by Kattawe Henry, Human Rights and Anti-Racism Advisor, Brock University and Brock alumnus.

The Emancipation Day celebration caps off Sunday 2 August at 7pm with a live streamed performance by the legendary local masters of funk/soul/Motown Leroy Emmanuel and the LMT Connection from Partridge Hall as part of #NiagaraPerforms.

The full #EmancipationDaySTC programming will be released on Tuesday 28 July and can be found at

Upcoming #NiagaraPerforms community partnerships includes:

Thursday 23 July, 7pm – Brock University’s Student Justice, Human Rights and Equity 
Join us for a collaborative evening of music, poetry and stimulating discussion featuring local performers J-Marsh, Jasmine Whyte and D’Scribe and an after-show panel with the artists facilitated by author and HRE’s own Intercultural Communications Coordinator Trecia McLennon. This event explores the connections between art, activism, race, gender, sexuality and the importance of performance in expression, liberation, and social transformation.

Thursday 30 July, 7pm – Local Reflections on Racism
An Online Interactive Speaker Series with Small Group Discussions – keeping up the momentum for racial justice and inclusion in St. Catharines.

Speaker Mutsa Charamba from Positive Living Niagara and co-organizer of Emancipation Day Celebrations discusses Social Determinants of Health within the Black Community with breakout groups facilitated by Josefina Perez, Amber Tallman, Edmund Frye, Marcel Stewart + Colleen McTigue and Jillien Hone. Performances for community during breakout groups shared by Shannon Kitchings, Eve Atom. In partnership with Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association and Positive Living Niagara. Presented as part of the #EmancipationDaySTC activities.

Thursday 6 August, 7pm – LVW Creative Barracks’ interactive craft experience for families 
Lacie Williamson is a multi-disciplinary artist and arts educator who owns and operates LVW Creative Barracks, an art studio and gallery created as “a home for all creatives.”

Thursday 13 August, 7pm – Niagara Conservatory of Music
The young students of the Niagara Conservatory of Music showcase their continued hard work while being separated from their teachers and peers, finding new ways to bring joy into their lives through music.

Thursday 20 August, 7pm – Earth Song Teachings
Edgar and Karl from the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre cultural team present a family friendly evening of fun and learning about the rich history of the social songs of the Haudenosaunee.

Thursday 27 August, 7pm – Local Reflections on Racism
The continuation of the Online Interactive Speaker Series with Small Group Discussions – keeping up the momentum for racial justice and inclusion in St. Catharines presented in partnership with Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association.

The FirstOntario PAC’s #NiagaraPerforms online series features live concerts from Niagara musicians every Sunday at 7pm and content from community partners every Thursday at 7pm. Live and interactive performances will be available for viewing through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. The performances will also be rebroadcasted on Cogeco’s YourTV Niagara.

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