Friday, 16 August 2019

Sunday afternoon talk by famous Haida artist / graphic novelist Yahgulanaas

For Immediate Release: Rare Ontario Appearance at PAMA by Artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
  Brampton, ON (August 16, 2019) Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA) is pleased to welcome award-winning, British Columbia-based artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas on Sunday, August 18 from 2 – 3 discuss his epic graphic work, RED: A Haida Manga, currently on display in the exhibition For A Social Cause.  This talk is included in the price of general admission. Pre-registration is required.
Image credit: Farah Nosh

About the Artist
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an award-winning visual contemporary artist, author and professional speaker. His work has been seen in public spaces, museums, galleries and private collections across the globe. Institutional collections include the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum and Vancouver Art Gallery. His large sculptural works are part of the public art collection of the Vancouver International Airport, City of Vancouver, City of Kamloops and University of British Columbia. Yahgulanaas's publications include national bestsellers Flight of the Hummingbird and RED, a Haida Manga When not writing or producing art, Yahgulanaas pulls from his 20 years of political experience in the Council of the Haida Nation and travels the world speaking to businesses, institutions and communities about social justice, community building, communication and change management. His most recent talks include the American Museum of Natural History and TEDxVancouver.

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Canadian b. 1954, RED, 2008, Watercolour, ink on paper, 168 cm x 381 cm, Private collection of Michael and Inna O'Brian. © Michael Nicholl Yahgulanaas, 2019. Brm
His work RED: A Haida Manga on view now at PAMA was first manifested in 2008 as a large-scale, six-tiered band of 18 panels each, across a nearly three-and-a-half-meter-long composite of hand-painted watercolour and ink drawings. The drawings were reproduced in a scripted graphic novel of the same name in 2009.
The work follows the life of an orphaned young boy named Red and his sister Jaada who live in the peaceful village of Kiokaathli on a secluded island in the Pacific Ocean off the West Coast of British Columbia. Their idyllic existence is cut short when a band of raiders attack the village, abduct Jaada and successfully escape without a trace.  Separated from his sister, Red grows up alone to become a leader of his community all the while consumed by rage and vengeance. When he unexpectedly stumbles upon the chance of rescuing Jaada, he will do anything and stop at nothing to bring her back home without thinking about the recourse of his action. In the process Red kills an innocent man and eventually ends his own life.
This action-packed tragedy combines traditional Pacific Northwest Coast Haida imagery and oral narrative with Manga (popular contemporary graphics found in Japanese comics and cartooning) to create a unique hybrid style that has come to define the work of its artist-author.  Yahgulanaas’ distinct brand is an integrated culmination of his studies of the artistic methods of his ancestors and Asian influences including the teaching he received from Chinese brush painter Cai Ben Kwon.  Learn more about this dynamic work on view now at PAMA. 

Issued by Stephen Weir - 416-489-5868
on behalf of PAMA

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Emancipation Day Proclaimation Demanded by Freedom Train Conductor

Look Down The Track Senators – Wanda’s Emancipation Train Is Heading For Ottawa.
By Stephen Weir

Wanda Thomas Bernard at the mike Union Station
Stand back  honourable members of the Senate. The Emancipation Train is heading to Ottawa and Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard is going to blow her conductor’s whistle until Canada’s Upper House listens to the voices of the Caribbean and African American communities.
Dr. Bernard championed a bill proclaiming August 1st Emancipation Day in Canada. Even though the legislation was passed by the Liberal Government and made it through two readings in the Senate, it failed to come up for the final vote before the Senate recessed.  The bill will not be brought back for a third and final reading.
At last Wednesday’s Freedom Train Ride in Toronto, the Nova Scotia senator said she is not going to give up.  Speaking to a crowd of close to 1,000 people inside TTC ‘s Union Station she told them  “I am 66 years old and I don’t have to retire (from the Senate) until I am 75. We will not give up anytime soon!”

 At Right: Libations - Aina-Nia Ayo'dele
For the seventh year in a row there was a special midnight subway train that took hundreds of people from Union Station to the Sheppard West Station. The symbolic special train left the station on July 31st and arrived at Sheppard just after midnight to celebrate the August 1st Emancipation Day.
“This year waour seventh annual Freedom Train ride,” said organizer Itah Sadu.  “ It was an incredible journey and experience! This was second year that the Honourable Wanda Thomas Bernard, has joined us, but this was her first time as our honourary conductor. She had the whistle and gave the call to board the train.”
Train Arrives at Sheppard

Also taking part in the Freedom Train ceremonies  were poet George Elliott Clarke, City Councillor Michael Thompson and community organizer Adisa S. Oji. Councillor Thompson brought greetings and a plaque on behalf of the city and Mr. Oji was presented with the Community Resilience Award. 
Last week’s train ride marked two important things.  The Underground Railroad which brought former slaves to Canada in the 19th century and the 185th anniversary of Emancipation Day on August 1, when the British Empire abolished slavery in 1834.  
The Senator hopes that she will be back next August 1st with an official Federal Government signed Emancipation Day proclamation!

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Underground Railroad leaves the station tonight at 11.30 AM Union Station Toronto

When the Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard – Senator from Nova Scotia (East Preston) blows the whistle as Conductor - over one thousand people will take a ride on Toronto’s Underground Freedom Train, leaving Union subway station in celebration of Emancipation Day on July 31st.
July 31, 2019 ... The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard – Senator from Nova Scotia (East Preston), recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, and a highly regarded social worker, educator, researcher, community activist and social change advocate, is getting ready to blow her whistle and yell “All Aboard the Freedom Train” as Toronto gets set to mark Emancipation Day. For the seventh year in a row there will be a special midnight TTC train that will take hundreds of people to the Sheppard West Station on July 31st to celebrate the August 1st date.
 Inline image2018 kick-off of Underground RR ride
It all begins July 31st at 10:45pm at Toronto’s Union subway station. “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,” explained organizer Itah Sadu. “The date is internationally acclaimed as Emancipation Day”.
“This year’s seventh annual Freedom Train ride will be an incredible journey and experience about the Underground Railroad and the history of Emancipation Day”. Opening ceremonies will begin at 10:45pm at Union subway station and half-an-hour later Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard, our honourary conductor, will give the call to board the train.”
Inline imageThe Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard
People will gather by the Brookfield Rotunda TTC entrance on the main floor of Union Station. Last year over 1,000 people took the train to Sheppard West Station to recognize the brave people who travelled the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada and then celebrate Emancipation Day.
 As people board the train there will be drumming, spoken word and songs will be sung, along with a tribute to the resilience of the many who travelled along the Underground Railway, seeking freedom in Canada. During the ride there will be a moment of silence called over the train’s intercom.
Notables confirmed to participate during the Freedom Train Ride include:
George Elliott Clarke -  Canadian poet, playwright and literary critic who served as the Poet Laureate of Toronto from 2012 to 2015 and as the 2016-2017 Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate
Michael Thompson - City Councilor and Toronto Deputy Mayor
Tiki Mercury Clarke – One of the all-time greatest Canadian jazz artists
Adisa S. Oji – recipient of the Community Resilience award
Also in attendance will be special guests from Buffalo and Albany in New York and also the Toronto African Drumming Collective.
Everyone is welcome to join us on this Underground Freedom Train Ride to celebrate Emancipation Day. People will need a regular TTC ticket for admission and come prepared for being part of a very unique subway ride. Seventh 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 on twitter @FreedomTrainTOR.
 Media wishing to take the midnight ride on July 31st, welcome to cover but please let me know to assure your crew spots on subway
Inline image TTC volunteers drive the train

Stephen Weir & Associates |
109 Castlefield Avenue, Toronto, ON
Tel: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 twitter: sweirsweir 

Wednesday, 17 July 2019


Inline image


TORONTO: A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge is set to unseal documents Friday morning showing that evidence suppressed and destroyed by authorities could have freed wrongly convicted Glen Assoun. 
The documents will be opened to media and public scrutiny at 9:30 a.m at the N.S. Supreme Court courthouse in Halifax. 
Last week, Justice James Chipman ruled against an attempt by the province and police to keep the documents confidential.
Innocence Canada lawyers Phil Campbell and Sean MacDonald supported a media coalition at the hearing, arguing that the public interest necessitated the release of the material.
Mr. Assoun served 16 and a half years of a life sentence for the 1995 murder of a Halifax woman, Brenda Way. He was convicted in 1999.  In 2014, he was released on bail pending a review of his conviction by the federal Criminal Conviction Review Group (“CCRG”) and spent approximately five years on bail under extremely onerous release conditions.
In total, Glen Assoun was wrongly convicted for 21 years.Once shown the results of the internal review, Justice Minister David Lametti quickly referred the case back for a retrial. The province opted not to prosecute, exonerating Mr. Assoun.
Mr. Assoun insisted on his innocence at all times, from his first contact with police in 1995, through to his exoneration in March 2019.  The documents to be unsealed today are expected to show that, unbeknown to Mr. Assoun's legal team, the case against him was irreparably flawed.
Recent court submissions suggest that authorities colluded to suppress vital evidence. The documents may also point a finger at the real perpetrator - or perpetrators - of Ms. Way's murder.
There are a few individuals whose commitment to the pursuit of justice assisted Mr. Assoun and whose contributions should be acknowledged.  These include: the CCRG for their highly professional and comprehensive investigation, former Minister of Justice Peter MacKay who oversaw the investigation at its most critical point, current Minister of Justice David Lametti for immediately recognizing the injustice and taking swift and decisive action to remedy it and Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice James Chipman for judicially restoring the integrity of the process.
At the conclusion of Friday's court proceeding, Mr. MacDonald and Innocence Canada Co-President Ron Dalton will respond to media questions outside the courthouse.


 For further information, please contact: 
Ron Dalton ( or 
Sea MacDonald ( or 416-606-3017) 
or Phil Campbell (416-847-2560; Skype:phil.lcp;
Innocence Canada
111 Peter Street, Suite 408
Toronto, Ontario  
M5V 2H1

Stephen Weir & Associates | 
109 Castlefield Avenue, Toronto, ON
Tel: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 twitter: sweirsweir