Tuesday, 8 August 2017

First Nations artist James Simon Mishibinijima’s Residential School Paintings

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Important Stories Being Told at PAMA as part of Peel 150

James Simon Mishibinijima
As part of the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA) Peel 150: Stories of Canada exhibition, First Nations artist James Simon Mishibinijima’s work is woven through the timeline showcasing two powerful series: his Residential School Paintings and Seven Grandfather Teachings. PAMA is offering free admission all summer (until Aug. 31) in celebration of Peel and Canada 150.

Born in 1954 in on Manitoulin Island, James Simon Mishibinijima grew up in Wikwemikong, one of the few Unceded Territories in Canada. Never the subject of a treaty, Wikwemikong has been able to preserve some of its pre-Columbian First Nations characteristics. 
Mishibinijima means “Birchbark Silver Shield.” As a boy, Mishibinijima was given the name James Alexander Simon by missionaries who found his name difficult to pronounce. His path as an artist was set early on as he was growing up in Wikwemikong. In some ways he feels that his destiny in art found him, pulling him in an unexpected direction away from an inclination to become an RCMP officer and toward a life as a professional artist.
Among his early teachers was Francis Kagige, an artist and neighbour, and recognized as one of the important pioneers of Wikwemikong art. Kagige had one of the few painting studios in the community. Mishibinijima would frequently visit his elder there where he was given his earliest instructions in painting and some lessons about style. Kagige also shared teachings about their Ojibwe culture and told the young artist his stories. The community’s elders and Mishibinijima’s relatives also imparted oral histories and described the myths and legends that are part of his cultural heritage.
Over the course of his career, he developed two signature styles. One is known as his “mountain paintings.” A dominant characteristic of these paintings is the blending of the land and the human elements to create images of energies that the land generously provides to all who seek it as sustenance.
A second personal style adapts the style of ancient pictographic paintings. Just as the painted petroglyphs make use of mysterious visual symbolism referencing human forms and translating radiant energies in pictorial terms, so Mishibinijima found in their spare human-like symbols potent signs with which to set down his, his family’s, and his community’s stories.
The paintings comprising the current exhibition at PAMA entitled “Indian Residential School Paintings” tell – illustrate – Mishibinijima’s mother’s stories as she gave them to him and as they revealed themselves to him in dreams. Her stories are depicted as pictographs.
 They recount her experiences when, as a young Ojibwe woman, she was a student in the middle years of the twentieth century at the Spanish Indian Residential School situated on the northern banks of Georgian Bay.
Mishibinijima’s mother passed on her stories to him later in her adult life, over the course of perhaps a decade and a half. By giving her stories to her son, she exhorted him to “paint them.”i By sharing such shocking details from her life as a young adult, it was her hope that the truths of “what happened” would live on into the future, beyond her own life. 
The paintings’ deceptively simple style provides the maximum opportunities for someone experiencing his paintings, particularly children and young adults, to reflect on this tragic chapter in our nation’s history and to understand the pain and trauma that people their own age experienced. His paintings are intended to open dialogues about personal and community values, and about the need to confront the truth.

PAMA is a place to explore and learn about Peel Region’s culture and heritage, as well as use conversation, questions and stories to help make new and fascinating connections to the surrounding community. Throughout the year, PAMA offers a variety of workshops and programs for all ages, families and adults. With so many different programs to choose from, PAMA has something for everyone. Operated by the Region of Peel, PAMA is located at 9 Wellington St. E. in Brampton. Visit pama.peelregion.ca to learn more.

Contact: Erin Fernandes 
Marketing Co-ordinator 
Peel Art Gallery, Museum and
Tel: 905-791-4055, ext. 7596 
Cell: 416-312-3425 
Twitter: @visitpama 

Stephen Weir 
Stephen Weir and Associates 
Tel: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 
www.stephenweir.com twitter:


Thursday, 3 August 2017

New Free Exhibition in Brampton Has An Arrow In It!

Peel 150 exhibition at PAMA, FREE this July & August
The Canadian AVRO ARROW is 
an integral part of Peel County’s history

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(Brampton – August 3, 2017) This summer, an underwater search for Avro Arrow artifacts in Lake Ontario is now underway by a Canada 150 collaborative research and recovery project spearheaded by the OEX Recovery Group. There is a growing interest in learning more about the famed Canadian Air Force fighter jet program - and aviation buffs don’t have to get wet to find out more about the historic made-in-Peel jet.
All summer visitors are invited to visit the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA) in downtown Brampton where you can explore artifacts from the Avro Arrow project including a shell of the mock-up of the cockpit of the production version of the jet created by Avro Canada engineers in the 1950s, as well as images, and digitized video footage. The piece is part of PAMA’s extensive permanent collection of artifacts that help tell the story of the community.
Meanwhile in Toronto, as part of Canada 150 celebrations, a search has begun for Avro Arrow artifacts.  A team of researchers from the Canada 150 collaborative research and recovery project spearheaded by the OEX Recovery Group have begun looking for nine Avro Arrow free flight models launched over Lake Ontario in a series of tests occurring from 1954 – 1957 that were submerged in Lake Ontario when the project was cancelled.  The models are one-eighth scale replicas of the famed flying jet and were part of the final flight design test work done prior to the production of the CF-105 Arrow.
The Avro CF-105 Arrow was a supersonic jet developed to intercept enemy bombers from the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Malton-based A.V. Roe of Canada employed 50,000 workers at the peak of work on the Arrow during the late 1950s, making Peel a centre of the aerospace industry. There were doubts as to whether bomber interceptors would be irrelevant before it was even built. On February 20, 1959, Prime Minister Diefenbaker announced to the House of Commons that the Arrow project was terminated. In Malton, layoffs were announced immediately. All eight prototype planes were destroyed. Over 13,000 people lost their jobs.
“We were in shock. I could see it in their eyes – many of the boys had got themselves into debt – it really got to me. I tried to get them all jobs.”
– Burt Scott, Avro Test Engineer, Memoir, PAMA Archives
The Arrow display is part of an exciting exhibition that includes selected pieces from PAMA’s art collection, among them historical landscapes of the Peel Region, an incredible sketchbook from artist Tom Thomson, sculptures, large abstract paintings and small format prints and drawings. As well as enjoying the hundreds of artifacts, documents, images, and artwork, this exhibition will provide visitors with touchscreens where they can dig deep to learn more, hands-on activities for kids and adults, and a chance to have their say about their wishes for the future. In celebration of Peel and Canada (and not to mention the 150th anniversary of the Peel County Jail and Courthouse in which PAMA is housed) they are also offering FREE admission for July and August.
PAMA is a place to explore and learn about Peel Region’s culture and heritage, as well as use conversation, questions and stories to help make new and fascinating connections to the surrounding community. Throughout the year, PAMA offers a variety of workshops and programs for all ages, families and adults. With so many different programs to choose from, PAMA has something for everyone. Operated by the Region of Peel, PAMA is located at 9 Wellington St. E. in Brampton. Visit pama.peelregion.ca to learn more.  -     
Contact: Erin Fernandes
Marketing Co-ordinator
Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives
Tel: 905-791-4055, ext. 7596
Cell: 416-312-3425
Twitter: @visitpama
Stephen Weir
Stephen Weir and Associates
Tel: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101
www.stephenweir.com twitter: sweirsweir

Monday, 31 July 2017

Ride That Train - Mayor and Federal MP have climbed on board

Member of Parliament, Whitby will be attending the Freedom Train Ride event on Monday evening - sweir
Drummers on the 2016 Train Ride

Emancipation Day
Fifth Annual Freedom Train Ride to Downsview
10.45 pm Start
Zanana Akande honourary conductor

Underground Freedom Train Monday July 31st Toronto
Please join the community on Monday, July 31st at 10:45pm at Toronto’s Union subway station as we celebrate Emancipation Day. We will be boarding the Underground Freedom Train at 11:30pm and travelling straight to Sheppard West subway station (previously Downsview station), arriving there at 12:15am on August 1st, which is internationally acclaimed as Emancipation Day. 
This year’s fifth annual Freedom Train ride will be an incredible journey and experience about the Underground Railroad and the history of Emancipation Day as Canada celebrates 150 years since independence. Opening ceremonies will begin at 10:45pm at Union subway station. People will gather by the Brookfield Rotunda TTC entrance on the main floor. Opening ceremonies will be completed by 11:15pm and we will then prepare to start boarding the Freedom Train which will depart Union Station at 11:45pm.
The train ride will include a moment of silence as we board the train, drumming, spoken word and songs, along with a tribute to the resilience of the many who travelled along the Underground Railway, seeking freedom in Canada.
Zanana Akande, community matriarch and advocate, who was the first Black woman elected to the Ontario legislative assembly and also serve as a cabinet minister in Canada, will be honoured as this year’s train conductor. Also featured this year, will be Meridian Ashamock, a young Cree high school student and visual artist, Baro Dununba and Friends African drumming ensemble and the Ubuntu drumming and dance ensemble. 
We will also be unveiling a commemorative plaque that will recognize the work of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters that will be mounted at Union Station, once the renovations are completed. The plaque is being sponsored by the Coalition of Black Trade Unions that has been a leading supporter of the Underground Freedom Train Ride series, since inception.
Everyone is welcome to join us on this Underground Freedom Train Ride to celebrate Emancipation Day. People will need a TTC ticket/token/transfer for admission and come prepared for quite the ride. Fifth annual Underground Freedom Train Ride t-shirts are available for purchase at A Different Booklist store, prior to the ride. Further information - available at A Different Booklist 416-538-0889 or by following us on twitter @FreedomTrainTOR.
photo - drummers on the train, 2016
 For further info Media contact
Organizer Itah Sadu
 A Different Booklist
or me at: 

Stephen Weir & Associates | stephen@stephenweir.com 
109 Castlefield Avenue, Toronto, ON
Tel: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 
www.stephenweir.com twitter: sweirsweir 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


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 50th Year For Caribbean Festival in Canada
Media Launch With Minister of Tourism
Costumes, New Parade Route and New Sponsors

We have been celebrating our Caribbean Canadian heritage for the past 49 summers here in Toronto. On June 1stMinisterEleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, will be the keynote speaker at the Media Launch for the 50th annual Caribbean festival.  The 11.45 am press conference will be held at Toronto’s Ontario Science Centre.
The highly visual media/social media only event is to announce several important changes to the festival including a new direction for the August 5th Grand Parade, a new corporate sponsor for the event, new 50th anniversary events during the month long festival and a fashion show of 22 new costume designs – both male and female - that will be worn on the parade route this year. Music. Food.

When:  Thursday, June 1, 2017
11.45 Sharp.
Doors open at 11am. Please allow 10-minutes to travel from Science Centre entrance to the Hot Zone. Camera crews contact Science Centre for parking near the Hot Zone entrance on the Southside of the building. Caribbean Reception to follow

Toronto, Ontario Science Centre
“The Hot Zone” Hall
770 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C 1T3

The Honourable Eleanor McMahonMi nister of Culture.  The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, Toronto Police. Costume Designers.  “Face of the Festival” model in costume, 22 parade models, mas camp leaders, corporate sponsors.  Master of Ceremonies for the event is  CP24/Bell Media’s Patricia Jaggernauth. Pannists. Calypsonians. Carnival Run founder. Grace Food’s Junior Carnival Chef.

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival will run from July 7, 2017 to August 7, 2017 with events showcasing originality, culture, and history to millions of spectators who come to the events in downtown Toronto or watch it on television and on-line. The theme this year is Celebrating our heritage from then to now'. It is the theme for the entire festival from the parade route, to the shows and all our performers including Singers, Pannists and Calypsonians.
Media should register at the event for Event credentials this festival.

Action Requested:
Information on the carnival https:// torontocaribbeancarnival.com/
To RSVP and for further details, please contact:
Stephen Weir
Carnival Communications