Online Event, Niagara Parks

Indigenous Month Speaker Series

This National Indigenous History Month, explore some of Niagara’s past and present Indigenous connections with this online speaker series featuring commentators specializing in Indigenous history, art and culture.
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Indigenous Month Speaker Series

Celebrating the Gifted Waters: Women’s Sharing Circle

This National Indigenous History Month, explore issues impacting Indigenous women from different perspectives, age groups and career paths with our Indigenous Month Speaker Series. Celebrating the Gifted Waters: Women’s Sharing Circle is an opportunity to participate in poignant dialogues alongside six Indigenous commentators specializing in Indigenous history, art and contemporary 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 $35 for the series. All sessions begin at 7:00 PM.

The Speakers

Indigenous women in fashion and entertainment

Semiah Smith and Brittany Clause
June 2

Strawberry Moon Matriarch Circle

Grandmother Jackie Labonte and Grandmother Gail Whitlow
June 16

Preserving Indigenous culture in the community

Alyssa General and Nikki Shawana
June 30

Indigenous women in fashion and entertainment

Semiah Smith and Brittany Clause
June 2, 7:00 P.M. – $15

Indigenous women are taking a lead in the Canadian fashion and entertainment industries, developing unique consumer products that impact the economy and build positive awareness of Indigenous culture. Through the perspective of two young Indigenous women in fashion and entertainment, gain some insight into the challenges faced by young Indigenous creators and the future of Indigenous engagement in these industries.

Different colours of clothing fabric for Fashion and Entertainment

About Semiah Smith

Semiah is a Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) singer/songwriter from Six Nations, Ontario. She began professionally singing traditional music from her Haudenosaunee heritage in her late teens in solo performances and as a member of the singing trio, Hatiyo (the good voice). She debuted her own singing career with her first single release, “Nothing can Kill my Love for You” soon followed by pop/R&B release, “All of this Time”.

Currently, Semiah is honing her craft as a singer, songwriter and artist while preparing for an EP release.

About Brittany Clause

Brittany Clause is a 31-year-old Cayuga Nation First Nations woman and mother of three from the Six Nations, Ontario, Canada. Brittany belongs to the wolf clan, Upper Cayuga Sour Springs Longhouse. Brittany is an established international fashion model, achieving the milestone of becoming the first Indigenous First Nations woman and mother to travel overseas to participate in the 2022 London Fashion Week, mentored by America’s Next Top Models Kiara Belen and Victoria Henley. Brittany’s interest in modeling and the performing arts industry started at the young age of seven. At the age of 17, Brittany became a head model-host for Seneca Niagara Casino’s Native American Music Awards.

In 2013, Brittany earned an honours bachelor's degree in health sciences degree and was the first runner up at New Mexico’s Gathering of Nation’s Miss Indian World. She also received the Best Dancer Award

Brittany has worked with established Indigenous First Nations talents for televised music and film projects, including Juno award-winner DJ Shub (Calling All Dancers, War Club), Inez Jasper (Burn Me Down) and Gil Burningham (Crooked Arrows 2012). In 2020, she became a part of Niagara’s Prestigious Celebration of Nations Event as a storyteller, sharing the story of the No-Face Corn Husk Doll. This story and teaching remain dear to Brittany, as it reminds her how to carry herself humbly while travelling and touring various fashion events.

Brittany takes pride in her matrilineal culture. She devotes her life to raising her children, under the divinity and birthright of pursing dreams and ensuring authentic Indigenous women, beauty and rich culture are represented confidently throughout mainstream Fashion Weeks around the world, while empowering women to reclaim their ancestral dreams and wisdom.

Currently, Brittany is focused on her health and fitness as she prepares to compete at the Ms. Canada United World Pageant, in London, Ontario this upcoming June. Brittany has big future goals of completing an entire USA & Europe Fashion Week Tour, along with walking in Miami Swim Week and Victoria Secret Fashion Show.

A view of the Niagara Falls from the Toronto Hydro Building

Strawberry Moon Matriarch Circle

Grandmother Jackie Labonte and Grandmother Gail Whitlow
June 16, 7:00 P.M. – $15

Diving deep into traditional knowledge, wisdom and healing, Grandmother Jackie and Grandmother Gail will explain the Indigenous ways of knowing and working with all relatives to incorporate important teachings to pave a healthy cross-cultural path forward.

Grandmothers will also touch on the meaningful connection between strawberries and the Grandmother Moon. Discover why during the Strawberry Moon cycle, in the month of June, communities gather for an annual feast that symbolizes starting fresh and letting go of judgement and self-righteousness.

More about the speakers

About Grandmother Jackie Labonte

Jackie Labonte (tekaiatakwas) is self-identified from the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Nation, Six Nations of Grand River Territory. She resides in the Niagara region and has worked with Indigenous organizations for over 30 years providing services, sharing traditional teachings and serving as a cultural advisor.

Jackie and her life partner Oliver Nobosin are currently engaged in expanding a cultural collective known as Kimisken (You Found It), which provides culturally based workshops and circles.

About Grandmother Gail Whitlow

Gail Whitlow is Mohawk, born into the Bear Clan of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Since the age of 25, Gail has dedicated her life to fostering traditional ceremonies that allow connection to Spirit. She is the 13th Grandmother on the Turtle Island Council.

Gail is a strong presence in the Grandmothers movement worldwide, and has been instrumental in creating the Grandmothers Circle the Earth Foundation. As medicine person working with visualization tools and traditional healing methods, she is led by guidance from the spirit world to connect with ancestors and animal totems.

Gail is the proprietor of the Ancestral Voices Healing Centre in Ohsweken, Ontario on the Six Nations Reserve.

Preserving Indigenous culture in the community

Alyssa M. General and Nikki Shawana
June 30, 7:00 P.M. – $15

Indigenous culture and traditions continue to be revitalized and sustained through strategic efforts being done to preserve languages and cultural practices. In this powerful and educational session, meet two women who are embracing the power of their ancestral ways and re-introducing them to the community through creative arts.

More about the speakers

A photo of a stone carving of an axe and staff on top of each other in an X shape

About Alyssa M. General

Alyssa M. General is Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is an artist, educator and language revitalist. Throughout her career, Alyssa has helped create a series of films in Kanyen’kéha with Onkwawén:na Kentyóhkwa, developed illustrations for children’s television show Tóta tánon Ohkwá:ri, and has received national recognition for her poem Enkonte’nikonhrakwaríhsya’te.

Alyssa has worked as an artist-educator with the Royal Conservatory of Music, a graphic designer with the Six Nations Language Commission, the Kawenní:io Language Preservation Project, as well as Wahta Mohawks, and is the artistic director with publishing company, Spirit & Intent. Currently, Alyssa teaches grade one at the Skaronhyase’kó:wa The Everlasting Tree School.

About Nikki Shawana

Nikki Shawana is an Indigenous artist from the Odawa Nation (Anishinaabe), Eagle clan. Her roots are from Wiikwemkoong, Manitoulin Island, however, she grew up in Southern Ontario. Nikki started Pow Wow dancing at an early age to keep connected to her Anishinaabe culture while growing up in an urban setting. As a teenager, she gathered teachings from Elders, dancers, singers and crafts people in her community and the Pow Wow trail. Growing up in Southern Ontario, Nikki learned many teachings, songs, dances and language from the Haudenosaunee as well. She quickly found herself as a role model for other youth in her community that wanted to learn more about their culture.

For the past 15 years, Nikki has been educating others about Indigenous culture through performances, workshops, classes and speaking engagements at various schools, community organizations and special events throughout Ontario and New York State.

In 2015, Nikki graduated from Fanshawe College with a Developmental Services Worker diploma and has since been working supporting adults and children with developmental disabilities. She strives to create an inclusive and supportive environment for every individual who participates in her workshops.

Today, Nikki is a well-known and reputable pow wow and hoop dancer, singer and crafts person. She continues to gather teachings from Elders and community members and is passionate about teaching others about Indigenous culture through the arts. Nikki currently resides and raises her family in Norfolk County.

A day-time aerial view of the Niagara River

Indigenous Connections Along the Niagara Parkway

The land along the Niagara River has been recognized as a spiritual place with rich ties to Indigenous history and culture for many generations. Oral tradition and archaeological evidence indicate that Indigenous peoples have lived along the Niagara River, from Fort Erie north to the shores of Lake Ontario in Niagara-on-the-Lake, for more than 13,000 years. Use our interactive map to discover these Indigenous connections along the Niagara Parkway.