Three years ago, Sonia Aimy wanted to do something to help uplift the work of African women artists like herself.
Today, her efforts have resulted in the annual AWA (African Women Acting) Niagara Festival, which is being held this weekend at the Riverbrink Art Museum for its third installment.
The venue choice, she said, is about more than just its connection to art: water is seen as cultural healing, she said, with Riverbrink’s location on the water of the Niagara River, it felt like the right choice.
“It was natural for it to be there. The festival is not just about art but it’s about healing,” Aimy said.
“Being able to provide an experience and atmosphere is fundamental (for the festival),” she added.
Aimy, who was born in Nigeria and lived most of her life in Italy before moving to Canada in 2020, helped form African Women Acting back in 2011 before founding the festival three years ago.
“Wherever I go as an artist I look to form a community. Whether they are Black people or white people it doesn’t matter to me,” she said.
She explained that after moving to Canada, she didn’t see many festivals that celebrate a collective like many in Europe do, so the first AWA Niagara Festival came to be in 2020.
This year’s festival runs from Aug. 26 to 27 this year, from 2 to 10 p.m. each day.
It will feature different special guest artists, all in celebration of African cultural heritage.
Aimy told The Lake Report that guests to the festival can look forward to curated arts and crafts exhibitions, interactive African Djembe drumming workshops, along dance, music and authentic African food all weekend long.
Tickets for this weekend’s festival are available on Eventbrite: Those interested can access the website at eventbrite.ca and search for “AWA Niagara Festival” to purchase tickets.