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The Compassionate City Project: Once we know better, we must do better

The Compassionate City Project: Once we know better, we must do better

The Compassionate City Project: Once we know better, we must do better

Once we know better, we must do better

By Sara Palmieri

The Compassionate City Project: Once we know better, we must do better
I am proud to be a part of a Compassionate City that aims to promote dignity, respect and opportunity for all of its residents. I believe that the arts have a key role to play in celebrating diversity and a plurality of cultures, and world views. By extension, I see the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre as a meeting place for this healthy cultural exchange.

As the March Ambassador of the #CompassionateSTC Project, I wanted to make

a conscious effort to better educate myself as I believe that the root of being aware and compassionate, is through education. We hosted three community events at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. The first was a screening of The Red Turtle at The Film House in support of Start Me Up Niagara, an organization that works with individuals facing significant life challenges such as addiction, mental illness, poverty, homelessness and unemployment. Those in attendance made voluntary donations to Start Me Up and learned more about the services that they offer and the amazing work that they are doing in Niagara.

We also hosted two free workshops promoting cultural competency for Indigenous relations within Niagara region, and as Canadians. As our country comes to understand our role in the historical cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples, I have been personally compelled to awakening and action. I recently came across an opportunity to attend a similar workshop in Toronto and was inspired to find a way to provide a similar workshop for us in Niagara, as starting place for those wanting to learn more about history from an Indigenous perspective and explore the ways in which historical injustices have impacted the Indigenous Peoples of North America (Turtle Island).

With my colleagues Annie Wilson (programming supervisor at the PAC) and Michele-Elise Burnett (Kakekalanicks Consultancy), we were able to engage Gary Parker, a Faithkeeper (a title holder) in the community where he was raised (Tonawanda Seneca Territory). Gary led two Indigenous Cultural Awareness Workshops, which he designed to introduce us to the concept of cultural awareness and to provide non-Indigenous participants with a greater understanding of the issues and challenges facing Indigenous Peoples. It was powerful, emotional, and practical and was overwhelmingly received by over 100 people in attendance over the two workshops.

I am hopeful that members of our community continue to engage with and learn more about the past, present and future of Canada’s relationship with our First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Find out more about some exciting initiatives and projects that we are working by visiting www.FirstOntarioPAC.ca.

I believe that compassion (care + action) can be nurtured through opportunities such as this. Yes, being compassionate does require care + action, but the foundation of that starts with education.

And once we know better, we must do better.

Niagara this Week is proud to support the Compassionate City Project with this first of a monthly series reflecting on the experience of one of the project ambassadors. For more on the Compassionate City initiative, visit www.compassionatestc.ca.