Province enhances culture to celebrate 150 years

Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Ontario’s 150th anniversary will be celebrated through investments made by the provincial government to cultural programs and infrastructure within the Kitchener area.

Under the Ontario150 Community Celebration program, MPP Kitchener-Centre Daiene Vernile announced that four cultural events will receive funding.

The Coalition of Muslim Women of K-W will receive $10,000 to create an art exhibit in partnership with THEMUSEUM, entitled “Celebrating Identity.” The exhibit will display the numerous works of Muslim women artists.

“The theme of the exhibit will be celebrating the beautiful, yet complex, multi-layered identities that often exist in first-generation immigrants with a focus on what it means to be a Canadian and Ontarian for these newcomer Muslim women artists,” said Fauzia Mazhar, chair of Coalition of Muslim Women of K-W, via email.

As well, $22,000 will be given to Neruda Arts to further enhance its 2017 Kultrun World Music Festival. The festival will feature music, dance, visual art and discussion surrounding Indigenous culture.

“Kultrun is a proud Canadian brand that promotes community development, social justice and national pride,” said Isabel Cisterna, artistic director at Neruda Arts, in an email.

“It is also a free festival occuring in Kitchener’s Victoria Park, a civic space accessible to everyone and favoured by immigrants, refugees and Indigenous People.”

The Multicultural Theatre Space is also amongst the four initiatives. The theatre will deliver a three-show series and interactive activities focusing on Kitchener’s local history, Canada’s First Nations and stories of new Canadians with their fund of $25,000.

Lastly, Homer Watson House and Gallery was announced to receive $24,999 from Ontario to engage community members in a cultural exhibition and workshop, “Celebrating the Colour’s of Canada: Literally and Contextually,” which will run throughout the course of an entire year.

“Students and patrons of all ages will have the opportunity to learn about our multi-cultural community, our Canadian environment and celebrate youth achievement, all in the visual arts context,” said Helena Ball, executive director of Homer Watson House and Gallery, via email.

All four initiatives and upgrades to Kitchener’s community spaces strive to honour the past, showcase the present and leave a legacy for individuals in Kitchener.

“Investing in infrastructure supports community life and allows us to celebrate and embrace our local culture and history,” said Vernile via email. “Ontario is helping Kitchener strengthen our local infrastructure, providing the space for us to come together to honour our heritage.”

In addition, the provincial government will be providing upgrades to K-W Counselling services through the Ontario150 Community Capital Program. This initiative is being administered for the Province by an agency of the Government of Ontario called Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The centre’s infrastructure will be improved through the repair of the building’s foundation, ensuring the facility’s long-term use while also enabling diverse individuals to work together as a team to enhance community life. This will be done through a funding sum of $130,200.

“We will be glad to welcome back the emergent multicultural groups who come to us for mentoring, leadership development and organizational development as well as our programs for women and children who have experienced abuse that have had to be relocated since our space has been unusable,” said Leslie Josling, executive director of K-W Counselling Services, in an email.

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