NPCA to shine light on Indigenous stories

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is hoping to connect people with nature by sharing Indigenous stories.

For the second year in a row, the authority will be hosting “Reawakening All of Our Senses” at Ball's Falls.

The event, which takes place on Sept. 23, will see the Niagara Peninsula Conservation (NPCA) partner with the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, and Michele-Elise Burnett of Kakekalanicks Indigenous Consulting Company, to share Indigenous stories.

The theme of this year’s event is "Indigenous Stories by the Fire" and it will feature interactive storytelling, drumming, music and dancing.

Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Elders will drum around the fire and share stories that have been passed on for generations, with traditional dance and song. Guests include Dave Labbe, Mawla Shawana, Franklin McNaughton, George Johnson, and a special appearance by Six Nations singer-songwriter and storyteller Jim Jacobs.

The inspiration for the event, said Pam Seabrook of Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, came in part from one of the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action.

“The inspiration for this program began decades ago, and coupled with the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #93, this event aims to overcome the barriers of language, religion, and ethnocultural backgrounds for newcomers, immigrants and established Canadians, by using art, spoken word, song, dance and drumming, creating an opportunity for community dialogues,” she said. “What better setting than the green spaces here in Niagara, gathered fireside, surrounded by a starlit forest, led by Indigenous presenters, to have a moment for self-education, self-expression and self-reflection.”

Alicia Powell, manager of Conservation Area Services, said the purpose of the NPCA is to connect people with nature and to be a partner for the community across the watershed.

By hosting events like this, Powell said they are upholding that purpose.

“It’s providing an opportunity for our communities of all peoples within our community to connect to Indigenous histories, learn traditional stories and knowledge that Elders and leaders and knowledge keepers are so generously able to provide to us in a natural setting,” she said. “It's so profound to be under the stars around the fire, listening to the drum. It's the opportunity to connect to things beyond yourself, to the world around you, to nature, and understand those histories. And the knowledge that is shared is crucial.”

Last year’s event was a three-day weekend leading up to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30. More than 100 people participated.

Powell said they plan for this event to be annual, with the theme changing each year.

There is a limited number of seats available for this event, so attendees are asked to register in advance at Admission is $25.

All money raised through the event will support support Indigenous-led initiatives and programming in the Niagara Peninsula watershed.

Abby Green, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News