Stage Door News

St. Catharines: Celebration of Nations Indigenous Arts Gathering announces programming

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Downtown St. Catharines will be a bustling hub when Celebration of Nations Indigenous Arts Gathering returns for its sixth year to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) Fri 9 Sept to Sun 11 Sept 2022

This year marks the return to fulsome in-person programming with a diverse offering of exceptional Indigenous talent in music, dance, film and traditional arts, as well as engaging workshops and distinguished speakers. The PAC’s backyard will once again come to life with sunrise ceremonies, traditional food, vendors, performances and teachings where the sacred fire will be held for the community all weekend.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett (Métis MNO citizen with Algonquin roots, Bear Clan) and Artistic Producer Tim Johnson (Mohawk), this annual partnership with the PAC brings community together to honour and celebrate the heritage, culture and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Turtle Island and beyond.

The 2022 theme, Honouring Our Matriarchs: Restoring The Balance, has guided this year’s programs to centralize the rich wisdom and beauty of Indigenous matriarchs.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to gather again as a community at the PAC to share an exceptional program of Indigenous artists and knowledge keepers,” shares Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett. “Year 6 offers an opportunity to raise up the voices of our Indigenous matriarchs, to heed their wisdom and to restore balance to the world again.”

Programs include performances by legendary Indigenous icon Buffy Sainte-Marie with emerging vocal powerhouse Shawnee Kish (10 Sept) as well as a special First Ladies of Jazz concert produced by Tim Johnson in partnership with the TD Niagara Jazz Festival (9 Sept).

Johnson has developed and premiered signature music programs for Celebration of Nations including RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World and Treaty: A Reconciliation Revelry. For 2022, Johnson teamed up with TD Niagara Jazz Festival to honour the First Ladies of Jazz.

“Friday’s marquee performance of The First Ladies of Jazz will feature an ensemble of three sensational female vocalists backed by a world-class jazz band comprised of JUNO and Order of Canada recipients, as they take us on a journey that extends from the earliest jazz vocal renderings through the Great American Songbook,” shares Artistic Producer Tim Johnson. “Along the way, audiences will learn about the improvisational musical fusion that is jazz, developed by American Indian, African American and European harmonic structures and rhythms.”

This year’s Celebration of Nations programming offers over 40 safe, in-person events, many with virtual participation options, and includes a wide range of free activities as well as pay-what-you-can and ticketed events.

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

“The PAC is proud to be the home for this annual gathering with our local and visiting Indigenous communities,” says Colleen A. Smith, CEO of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. “Celebration of Nations was born out of a response to Canada’s 150th anniversary and has become an opportunity for Niagara residents and visitors to support meaningful reconciliation and foster greater belonging.”

For tickets visit