Liberty is a writer, avid conversationalist, journalist, and lover of all things Buffalo. She graduated summa cum laude from Buffalo State, where she also earned the Outstanding Senior in Journalism award. When she isn’t writing (which doesn’t happen often), she enjoys reading poetry and buzzing around the Queen City!
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center expands Juneteenth celebrations with special events
Tue, Jun 14th 2022 12:25 pm
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is extending its Juneteenth celebrations past Sunday, with events on Monday, June 20, and Friday, June 24.
From 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, the venue is hosting “Underground Railroad and the Seeds on Afro-futurism” at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. This event is in collaboration with author dann J. Broyld and artist Ellex Swavoni, who will not be present at the event, but her art installation will be featured.
Attendees of this event have the opportunity to join Broyld in a presentation, conversation, and signing of his book, “Borderland Blacks: Two Cities in the Niagara Region During the Final Decades of Slavery.” This event will also feature the art of Swavoni for spectators to enjoy while they learn about the Underground Railroad and Afro-futurism.
Then, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, June 24, the “Voices of Freedom” event will take place in the greenspace outside in Tubman Plaza. It will feature The Bel Canto Youth Chorus of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They will perform songs in relation to the Underground Railroad, liberation, and in celebration of Juneteenth.
These two events are free to attend.
Additional Juneteenth Celebrations
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center invites the community to come celebrate Juneteenth on Sunday, June 19. The venue is hosting special events:
√ Freedom Conversation Tour: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
√ Freedom Conversation Tour: 2-3 p.m.
√ Walking Tour of Suspension Bridge Village: 3:30-4:30 p.m.
√ Tabling at the Buffalo Juneteenth Festival/Parade: noon until 2 p.m.
The team at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center encourages everyone to come down and celebrate Juneteenth. Visitors can choose between one of the offered tour times or do self-guided tours. During the parade, visitors can also stop by the table outside, in Tubman Plaza, to speak with someone from the Heritage Center.
‘Explore Heritage’ Collaboration with Explore & More in Celebration of Juneteenth
On June 17, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is hosting “Explore Heritage” a collaboration with Explore & More in celebration of Juneteenth.
Children from the ages of 7 to 10 can experience a jam-packed event with fun coloring activities all while learning about the history of Juneteenth and why it is celebrated.
This program will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center and Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum.
Organizers said, “While the event at the Heritage Center has already been filled, we encourage everyone who is interested in joining to sign up for the Explore & More location in Buffalo.”
The mission of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is to reveal authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls, and to inspire visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and to take action toward an equitable society. The Heritage Center is an experiential museum that offers self-guided tours, facilitated guided tours, school field trips, and numerous public programs, services and events. Each is designed to expand visitors’ understanding of and appreciation for the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, and the enduring impact of slavery in the U.S. More information can be found on the website.
Opinion | Have an event happening in Niagara? Help us spread the word.
It’s about trust. Our relationship with our readers is built on transparency, honesty and integrity. As such, we have launched a trust initiative to tell you who we are and how and why we do what we do. This column is part of that project.
After more than two long years following the great shutdown in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, business, attractions — and especially events — are back up and running.
This week our newspaper featured a special section, Best of Summer, which highlights some of the best festivals and attractions taking place across Ontario. The feature will continue throughout the month of June.
One of the pieces, by Abby Green, centred on Pride month and all the ways in Niagara to celebrate it — from flag raisings to a selection of curated films to the fan favourite Pride in the Park event.
But unfortunately, we don’t know about everything and we know the difficulties non-profit groups and grassroots organizations have trying to get the word out about their events and press releases with small teams and varied budgets.
The good news is we can help.
Whether it’s a fundraiser, festival, farmers’ market or holiday happening, we invite community groups and organizations to share news of their events on our website.
Our online events calendar is a popular feature. And the best part? It’s absolutely free.
Looking to submit an event? Follow these simple steps:
• Visit www.niagarathisweek.com
• Register for a free account or login using your existing credentials
• Under your username, select “Submit Your Content”
• Click on “Submit Event” to create an event
• Fill out the required fields and click submit.
If you run into issues, you can download an easy-to-follow guide or reach out to a member of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
With life starting to return to normal — or perhaps the new normal — people are anxious to venture out again and enjoy the places and events they took for granted in the past. Perhaps your event can become a new favourite.
Mike Zettel is the online editor for Niagara this Week.
Niagara Regional Exhibition not ‘picking sides’ by hosting Freedom Tour event
Niagara Regional Exhibition isn’t taking a political stance by allowing a two-day Freedom Tour event to set up at its Welland fairgrounds site this weekend.
That’s according to Mike Gill, president of Niagara Regional Agricultural Society, the organization that operates the site on Niagara Street.
“No one formally opposed it,” he said about event needing approval from the society board.
The event, a “Unity Truck Show,” will run Friday night and Saturday, featuring a number of guest speakers who will discuss “issues they believe in,” said Gill.
“We’re not about to get political in any way. That’s not our place,” said Gill, adding the society is not “picking sides” in the COVID-19 debate.
Events have mostly been non-existent at the fairgrounds since the pandemic started and the society needs the money the event will generate.
“We’re just looking for some rental income,” said Gill.
In 2020, there were “no rentals at all,” which equated to a loss of about $24,000.
In a normal year, the society’s annual budget is about $100,000, with three quarters of that amount coming from one building being rented full time, as well as storage fees for people who keep things such as boats and cars there during the winter.
In 2021, there were four or five events that brought in no more than $9,000 in rental fees, said Gill.
On top of the annual exhibition on the first weekend of June, several other events are on the roster for a full schedule this year, he said.
Asked if the society’s board is concerned about backlash from people who disagree with the messages expected to be shared on the weekend, Gill didn’t seem worried.
“It doesn’t matter what we do. Someone is always unhappy. That’s just the world we live in,” he said.
According to promotional material on social media, the event will include bouncy castles, face-painting and games, part of a “kids fest.”
According to the Freedom Tour website, a “group of like-minded individuals dedicated to spreading the truth of what is happening in our country” will be attending.
A section of the website says the group is “still carrying on about freedom,” due to rules regarding unvaccinated Canadians crossing borders.
People losing jobs due to vaccine mandates is another concern the group shares on its website.
Niagara schools taking nuanced approach to teaching current events
The war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Black racism, the impact of residential schools — there has been no shortage of concerns or topics of reflection in classrooms the past few years.
In response, Niagara school boards said they have taken a nuanced and thorough approach in bringing discussions about current events into the classroom.
That means relying on the relationships between faculty and students, and giving teachers tools and space to determine the best option to create a safe learning environment, said Michael St. John, superintendent of special education and mental health and well-being for District School Board of Niagara.
“The teachers in our system really pride themselves on, and take care in, knowing each of their students … knowing their learning, knowing their background, knowing their culture, knowing a great deal about their family,” said St. John.
“We don’t go in to teach about Ukraine, we respond to the needs of the students and the questions they may have, some of their natural curiosity and some of their musings and thinking.”
DSBN said its system works to create a foundation and a balance when it comes to world events such as Ukraine or Black Lives Matter, using resources from mental health and well-being teams in combination with resources that come from its curriculum department.
But it’s about more than academics, with teachers learning to how to identify struggling students, and how to appropriately respond.
It may involve a phone call home, or bringing in a counsellor, either for an individual student or for the entire classroom, to work on resiliency and social emotional learning, “which is a big part of our curriculum for kids and their mental health and well-being,” said St. John.
“It really is going to be a mixture and a balance and it’s pretty fluid with regards to what can, and is, being presented to acknowledge and honour all of the kids in the class.”
Jennifer Pellegrini, communications officer for Niagara Catholic District School Board, said students are encouraged to come forward about Ukraine or other global events, with conversations from a faith-based perspective, “focusing on the need for humanitarian aid, justice, compassion and empathy.”
“Questions and conversations may focus on the politics behind the war, and the history of the region. They may also focus on the importance of critical thinking about the information students are consuming online,” she said.
Conseil scolaire Viamonde, the public French school board, said in an email when it comes to the response to current world events, it relies solely on curriculum provided by the Ministry of Education.
DSBN student trustee Salony Sharma said the past few years have brought about “so much discussion and uncertainty” but has created a unique environment to learn and grow, especially as a high school student.
“It’s not like you’re reflecting on history, you’re reflecting on current events and news happening in the context of our own lives,” she said. “You’re starting to form your own perspectives and viewpoints on these things and be experiencing them in real time.”
Sharma, who is in her final year at Westlane Secondary in Niagara Falls, said those discussions have allowed students to use the classroom as “a hub of different perspectives.”
She credited teachers for that freedom, and for encouraging student-led conversations.
“That lets us have a very open conversation without the pressure of the teacher’s opinion or how that might be perceived as a student in their class,” she said.
“To have those conversations helped solidify my own voice … and make me think outside my own privilege or my own bubble.”
Jennifer McArthur, Niagara president of Elementary Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, said teachers use their professional judgment and knowledge of their students to determine how and when to respond to current events.
Some engage students through visual arts by creating a lesson of painting sunflowers, while another may include the Ukraine war as a choice for a topic on written reflection.
But it goes beyond the age or grade of the student and their development, with teachers considering students’ social-emotional needs to make sure they “feel safe.” They also take into consideration the amount of understanding or exposure to current events students may have.
“A teacher with students who are refugees would consider previous and potential trauma that may affect how students react to the topic of Ukraine,” she said.
“If a child has friends or relatives directly affected, their understanding will be vastly different from a student living in a house where it is not being discussed.”
Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation District 22 president Shannon Smith said teachers throughout the province engage students in ongoing conversations about current events as an opportunity to teach critical thinking.
“They engage students in ways that are pertinent to their subject area. Whether it’s learning traditional folk music from different countries or incorporating more inclusive novels in their English class, teachers present students with opportunities to expand their understanding of history and social justice,” said Smith.
Plenty of Family Day events planned across Niagara
Scavenger hunts, snow yoga and free skating.
Niagara residents looking for something to do this Family Day long weekend will find a wide variety of activities planned across the region.
Here are some of the events taking place. More information can be found on individual municipalities’ websites.
A city-wide scavenger hunt “Winterquest” is taking place until Feb. 22.
Participants can download the free GooseChase mobile app and join the game with the code: 3MV899.
They’ll be given missions to complete at outdoor art installations, recreational trials, parks, community rinks and more.
St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Family Day, with structured programming between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., including collection viewings, interactive activities, a scavenger hunt and a DIY family tree take-home activity kit.
Collection vaults will be open with behind-the-scenes tours throughout the day. An exhibit featuring the relationship between food and family will be on and visitors are encouraged to bring recipes of favourite family meals to pin on the boards in the Burgoyne room.
St. Catharines is offering “SNOWGA in the park — outdoor yoga outside the Russell Avenue Community Centre at noon Monday. Participants can join a 45 to 60-minute class, depending on the weather. Bring a yoga mat and dress in layers.
Participants can get some exercise and practice reading at the Port Weller Community Centre by following the trail of story book pages for a winter walk. Drop by the park between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday.
NORDIC POLE ADVENTURE WALK
Participants can bundle up and meet at the Lock 3 parking lot at 10 a.m. for an adventure walk along the Welland Canal. Nordic poles are available to borrow. The city has a Nordic Pole Walking 101 video to view on the City of St. Catharines YouTube page to see what it’s all about.
Public skating is happening at Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre on Family Day with hour-long time slots starting at noon.
Numbers are limited to 40 per session and reservations can be made at stcatharines.ca/activestc
Leisure swims are running throughout the day from 7:15 a.m. to 9:05 p.m. on Family Day. Reservations at stcatharines.ca/activestc. Detailed events can be found at stcatharines.ca/familyday
Free skating at the Gale Centre Monday, Feb. 21.
Public skating 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., 1 to 2:15 p.m and 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.
No walk-ins due to capacity limits. QR Code is required to enter all Niagara Falls recreational facilities.
Patrons can reserve spots at www.niagarafalls.ca/skating
Niagara Falls Museums is hosting a free Family Day weekend scavenger hunt for families and friends who want to have fun, explore the city and learn some local history.
The contest runs from Friday at 4 p.m. until Monday at 9 p.m.
Participants can download the free GooseChase mobile app and join the game with the code: VW5W6Q. They’ll be sent on nine different missions taking them across the city to find answers to questions.
Those who don’t want to use the app can find a list of locations and questions at niagarafallsmuseums.ca/events/family-day.
More information is available on the website.
Butterfly Conservatory — The new travelling exhibit opens, “On the Trail of the Monarch Butterfly,” produced by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in partnership with the Embassy of Mexico
Niagara Parks Power Station — Little Inventors workshops run 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday featuring STEM-related activities designed to inspire young minds. Workshops free with admission.
Journey Behind the Falls — Reduced winter rates in effect, $15.50 for adults and $10.50 for children.
Zipline to the Falls — Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Family Day.
Garden at Home virtual series — Niagara Parks horticulturalists kick off an all-new virtual gardening series, Garden at Home. Tickets cost $15 per event with admission to the entire four-part series for $45.
Visit niagaraparks.com for more details on locations and hours.
Free skating with the donation of a non-perishable food item at Welland Main Arena, sponsored by Welland Optimist Club. There will be a “learn to skate” area with skate aids and bumpers and a play area to try out ringette.
Vouchers for a free hot dog and free drink for each child will be handed out and are redeemable Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Family Day GooseChase is running from Friday at 3 p.m. to Monday at 6 p.m.
Families will be sent on a scavenger hunt around the city or in their neighbourhoods, building a snowman, creating a snow angel, taking a photo with a hockey stick and more.
Participants can download the free GooseChase mobile app and join the game with the code: ZMG8LL.
Free skate on Monday at Vale Health and Wellness Centre from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Proof of vaccination status is required for anyone 12 and older.
The arena programming schedule with other program details and fees is available at the www.portcolborne.ca site by following the links.
Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum is hosting a scavenger hunt featuring local heritage. Participants can download the free GooseChase mobile app to participate in the “Humberstone Hunt” scavenger hunt.
Details will launch on Monday on the museum’s social media accounts. Those who don’t want to use the app can arrange to get a paper copy by calling the museum at 905-834-7604.