ORILLIA CENTRE FOR ARTS AND CULTURE
The popular event, Gathering: Festival of First Nations Stories, is slated to return to Rama First Nation June 9, 10, and 11 after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The three-day event features presentations by First Nations authors, storytellers and presenters including Norma Dunning, Lisa Bird-Wilson, Drew Hayden Taylor, Waub Rice, Shanika MacEachern, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Sid Bobb, Sherry Lawson, Brenda Wastasecoot and a live music performance by Ronnie Douglas and Ritchie Benson made possible by the Mariposa Folk Festival.
In announcing the event, Chief Ted Williams looks forward to welcoming Gathering, which was presented at Rama in 2017.
“In this time of truth and reconciliation our stories, as a community and as a people, continue to shape our identity. With all the change and upheaval going on around us, our stories give us strength, they educate us and they lead us forward,” he said.
The festival will feature a community welcome with stories, public readings, drumming, songs and visits by authors to area schools.
Well-known First Nations playwright, novelist and musician Tomson Highway has lent his name to a new emerging artist residency for the festival, which will encourage and support new voices and stories. The application portal will open June 10.
Rama author and storyteller Sherry Lawson has read and presented at all three previous Gatherings and can’t wait to welcome the event in June.
“We’re all talkers and we just miss being with each other. It’s so great to be able to share our First Nations stories through such a wide and diverse range of voices,” she said. “I can’t wait to be a part of this event again and to welcome everyone to our community.”
Orillia Centre’s creative director, Kate Hilliard, says, “We are excited to present this important festival again with Rama First Nation and under the expertise of curators Sherry Lawson and Fred Addis. Our local schools are thrilled to have the opportunity of meeting these amazing authors.”
See the entire program here.
Gathering is funded through the Canada Council for the Arts, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, TD Bank, the Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture, the Chippewas of Rama First Nation and through private donations. Watch for information and updates on Gathering on the Rama First Nation and Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture websites, Facebook and Instagram.