Indigenous Month Speaker Series: Indigenous Connections along the Niagara Parkway
Throughout history, the land along the Niagara River was recognized as a spiritual place with rich ties to Indigenous history and culture. Oral tradition and archaeological evidence indicate that Indigenous peoples lived along the Niagara River, from Fort Erie north to the shores of Lake Ontario in Niagara-on-the-Lake, for 13,000 years.
This National Indigenous History Month, explore some of Niagara’s past and present Indigenous connections with this three-part speaker series featuring commentators specializing in Indigenous history, art and culture.
The Indigenous Month Speaker Series is delivered as a live-streamed, digital event. Tickets grant access using any computer, tablet or mobile device for these live, interactive sessions.
Tickets are $15 per event, or gain access to the entire series for $35. All sessions begin at 7:00 PM.
Tim Johnson, Tom Ridout & Raymond Skye
Designing the Landscape of Nations Memorial June 10
Renee Thomas-Hill & Jackie Labonte
Matriarch Circle June 17
Jim Hill & Travis Hill
The Battle of Chippawa: The Divide Among Peoples June 24
Tim Johnson, Tom Ridout & Raymond Skye Designing the Landscape of Nations Memorial
June 10, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. - $15
The Landscape of Nations honours the contributions and sacrifices made by Six Nations and Native Allies during the Battle of Queenston Heights and throughout the War of 1812. Join former Smithsonian associate director Tim Johnson, landscape architect Tom Ridout, and fine artist Raymond Skye in this insightful discussion about the inspiration, genesis and design process behind the making of this masterful living memorial.
Tim Johnson is an Indigenous arts advisor, conceptual author and director of Landscape of Nations 360° Indigenous Education Initiative. As the former associate director for museum programs at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Tim managed the museum’s largest organizational group across its facilities in Washington and New York.
An experienced education and arts executive, Tim helped lead the development of two public memorials of national significance that recognize and honour Indigenous peoples’ contributions to Canada, including the Landscape of Nations Commemorative Memorial in Queenston, and the First Nations Peace Monument in Thorold. In 2016, Tim received the Dreamcatcher Foundation Award for Art and Culture for his contributions to education, the arts, and numerous creative cultural initiatives over the course of nearly four decades. Tim, Wolf Clan Mohawk, is an active citizen in his home community of Six Nations of the Grand River.
Landscape architect Tom Ridout received his professional seal in 1985 after earning his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Guelph. Shortly after receiving his seal, Tom ventured into entrepreneurship and launched his own practice that combined his love of nature with his artistic interest in landscape form and engineering. His firm, FRP Inc., focused on projects in the public domain with a specialty in park design and restoration in the Greater Toronto Area. The Landscape of Nations Memorial was one of Tom’s last major public projects. He has since pursued a second career as an artist and professional architectural photographer.
Raymond Skye is a fine artist from the Six Nations Grand River community in southern Ontario. A self-taught creator, Raymond has worked diligently to distinguish himself as an artist of talent and ability. Raymond’s father was a member of the Seneca Nation, and his mother was Tuscarora. Raymond designed the bronze castings on display at the Landscape of Nations Memorial. He lives in Brantford, Ontario.
Renee Thomas-Hill & Jackie Labonte Strawberry Moon Matriarch Circle
June 17, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. - $15
Join Renee Thomas-Hill and Jackie Labonte as they share their knowledge, teachings and stories about the Strawberry Moon and the blossoming of the strawberry spirit. In Indigenous culture, the strawberry is known as the “heart berry” because of its shape. During the Strawberry Moon cycle, in the month of June, communities gather for an annual feast that symbolizes starting afresh and letting go of judgement and self-righteousness. In this discussion, discover the meaningful connection between this little fruit and the Grandmother Moon.
Renee Thomas-Hill is a citizen of the Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. As a Haudenosaunee Elder, Renee is charged to pass on traditional teachings and share the message of peace, power and righteousness. She shares this message from her perspective as an Indigenous woman, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, educator and historian.
Renee is also a traditional Golden Age smoke dancer, First Nations doll maker, traditional healer and grief counsellor. She has worked with social agencies, educational institutions, museums, hospitals, youth lodges, nursery and day care facilities, and has participated in many community events.
Jackie Labonte (Tekaiatakwas) is a self-identified citizen of the Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. For over 30 years, Jackie has shared the Indigenous experience by facilitating cultural workshops that incorporate hand drums, pow wow drums, talking sticks, rattles, medicine pouches and a variety of other craft items.
Jackie is a retired board member of the Community Addiction Services of Niagara. She has also served as cultural advisor for the Aboriginal student councils of Brock University and Niagara College. Jackie and her life partner Oliver Nobosin are currently engaged in expanding a cultural collective known as Kimisken Cultural Restorative Circles.
Jim Hill & Travis Hill The Battle of Chippawa: The Divide Among Peoples
June 24, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. - $15
The Battle of Chippawa, fought on July 5, 1814, was the opening engagement of the Niagara Campaign of 1814, the longest and bloodiest military operation of the War of 1812. In this discussion, find out how the battle impacted the First Nation Haudenosaunee peoples that inhabited the land along the Niagara River.
Jim Hill, senior manager of heritage and cultural stewardship, has been with Niagara Parks for over 25 years. His responsibilities include the preservation and conservation of Niagara Parks heritage properties, cultural stories and landmarks including over 100 plaques, markers and monuments. He is the former Battery Commander of the 10th Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery. Jim currently lives in Niagara Falls with his wife Jeannie and their children, Jack and Emilia.
Travis Hill has been a part of the Niagara Parks team for almost 20 years and is the manager of Niagara Parks’ Old Fort Erie heritage site. He is widely respected for his cultural knowledge and been asked to provide Indigenous interpretation, programming and speaker sessions at various historic sites in Ontario and the United States. He is an elite athlete and two-time silver medalist with the Iroquois Nationals in the World Lacrosse Championships. Hill played professional lacrosse for the Minnesota Swarm and Rochester Knighthawks, winning the National Lacrosse Championship in 2012 with the Nighthawks. He is a citizen of the Tuscarora Nation, a member of the Beaver Clan of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and calls the Town of Fort Erie home.