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Gathering festival in Rama, Orillia begins Thursday

Gathering: A Festival of First Nations Stories includes concerts at St. Paul's Centre
2019-07-05 Mariposa Folk Festival Friday 2
Tom Wilson will perform Friday at St. Paul's Centre in Orillia as part of Gathering: A Festival of First Nations Stories. | Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters file photo

Gathering: A Festival of First Nations Stories is back again with a wonderful variety of stories, speakers, concerts, and learning opportunities.

Running June 1 to 4, this special event will be held at Rama First Nation and St. Paul’s Centre in Orillia.

Guests include Amanda Peters, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Brenda Wastasecoot, Chief Lady Bird, Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Ernie Sandy, John Rice, JP Longboat, Karen McBride, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Mark Douglas, Michelle Good, S.P. Joseph Lyons, Jeff Monague, Marcus Ali, Patricia Cano, and Rama’s own published author and host, Sherry Lawson.

There will also be a water bundle ceremony with John Rice at St. Paul’s Centre Sunday at 10:30 a.m., and various learning-in-the-land opportunities and portals Sunday afternoon at Rama and St. Paul’s Centre.

There will be opportunities for gathering, for learning, hearing stories, participating in ritual, and reflection. Best of all, all daily events are free. You just need to RSVP to enjoy this wonderful experience. Go to the website here for more information on each day’s activities and to register.

But there’s more.

Tom Wilson and Tomson Highway are coming in concert, June 2 and June 3 at St. Paul’s Centre, thanks to the generous support of Mariposa Folk Festival and Seeds of Hope.

Tom Wilson has been called a musical shapeshifter, a force of nature, a creative genius, and more by reviewers and writers in music, art, and literature. Wilson is larger than life — a big, gruff, gravelly voiced Hamiltonian whose family had a secret. Wilson was not who he thought he was, the son of a blue-collar Hamilton steelworker, but instead the son of a Mohawk warrior. This rocked Wilson, rocked his world, and spawned even more creativity and a best-selling memoir, Beautiful Scars. The book is now a documentary, and Wilson just keeps on creating, with a new album recently released and many collaborations and projects on the go.

This incredibly gifted musician and storyteller is in concert with Jesse O’Brien and Thompson Wilson, with a special intro from local storyteller, musician and Elder Jeff Monague, on Friday June 2 at 8 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are $25 and you can get them on the website here.

Tomson Highway is a phenomenon. Recipient of the Order of Canada and award-winning playwright and author of The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, Rose, Kiss of the Fur Queen, and his new memoir, Permanent Astonishment. Tomson is not only a wordsmith, but an internationally recognized concert pianist.

This brilliant artist has been dubbed the most optimistic man in Canada or perhaps the world by his friends. Highway is hilarious, mysterious, thoughtful, and always talented, creative and inspiring. He will be seated at a beautiful Bösendorfer piano and joined in concert with vocalist Patricia Cano and saxophonist Marcus Ali, at St. Paul’s Centre, Saturday, June 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and you can get them here.

There may be some limited concert tickets at the door, for $25 cash, but it’s far safer to buy them online now.

This festival is a don’t-miss. Get your tickets now at Hurry. They won’t last long. See you at the Gathering.