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Live at  the Kisanii Hub
As part of

In Partnership with


September 23 to September 25, 2022

David Crombie Park | The Esplanade & Berkeley St

Video by Laura Dittman

“Live at the Kisanii Hub” brought arts to The Esplanade as a part of the Ontario Culture Days Regional Hub Program and made The Esplanade Toronto Downtown's only festival hub in 2022!


The event, “What We Remember”, invited the audience to explore the perception of time and its impact on remembrance. From our busy and meticulously scheduled lives, to timeless ancestral storytelling, this event managed to entertain the whole family!


“What We Remember”, hosted by Maysam Ghani, featured acrobatic performance by Eman Hillawi, storytelling by Indigenous grand-mother Kim Wheatley, captivating drums by Njacko Backo, live music by Waleed Abdulhamid, face painting by Linda Epp, painting exhibition by Darwin Peters, an indigenous emerging artist/painter from Pikangikum.

With "What We Remember", we also dived deep into our individual memories tied to The Esplanade to nurture our connection to our community! Esplanadians took the mic and shared a memory of the Esplanade from their past.

As one of the remembrance aspects of the event, we had a craft table with postcards and everybody will be encouraged to write a piece for a beloved one and mail it following the event. At the end of the day, we are all about what we remember!


We thank all Esplanadians who joined us on this rainy weekend for a whirlwind of unforgettable performances between September 23 and September 25 from 5pm to 7pm in David Crombie Park!


"Live at The Kisanii Hub as part of ON Culture Days" on Media

"Live at The Kisanii Hub as part of ON Culture Days" was highlighted on the October 2022 issue of a local newspaper, The Bridge, with an article written by Ignazio Colt Nicastro.


Aerialist: Eman Hillawi

Musician: Njacko Backo

Musician: Waleed Abdulhamid

Storyteller: Kim Wheatley

Face Painting: Linda Epp

Host: Maysam Ghani

and community members to share their memories of The Esplanade!

Organized by Jamii Team: Afnan Yakot, Iris Unlu, Isorine Marc,

Jonelle Sills, Nadifa Daud Mohamed, Yusra Yacout

Event Videographer:  Laura Dittman

Event Photographer: Anushay Sheikh

Acts of Remembrance on The Esplanade

Author: Ignazio Colt Nicastro

It was only the second day of fall, yet the cool breeze of the season had already swept through the city. As I stepped off the street car and bared autumns chill, my ears picked up on a nearby celebration just a few blocks away. Like a siren’s call, the rhythmic beating of Njacko Backo’s drum lured me over to ‘What We Remember,’ an event presented by Jamii as part of ON Culture Days, where I found numerous community members playing music together. Throughout the night, visitors used storytelling, music, and art, to consider diverse acts of commemoration.


Taking place within The Esplanade, there was a degree of care put towards celebrating and honouring the history of this Toronto street. Historically, The Esplanade reflected the meaning of its name: a wide-open space near a body of water. However, through time the physicality of this Toronto strip changed. To remind us of that, postcards featuring archival images of The Esplanade were laid out. Each postcard was an invitation for a memory or personal message to be shared with loved ones across the world.


To further the acts of remembrance, local Esplanadians were invited to share memories of their life in The Esplanade. More stories were then shared by Kim Wheatley, an Ojibwe Anishinaabe Grandmother, who first welcomed us into the space with a smudging ceremony. Together we sat around the fountain listening to Wheatley’s stories and songs as the water behind us gushed gracefully.


The space also hosted Darwin Peters, a Pikangikum First Nation emerging artist. His traditional Woodlands inspired work was vibrant, alluring pedestrians in off the sidewalk and into the festival of remembrance. As the event came to a close and everything was packed back into the Kisanii Hub, we could only wonder where this travelling cart might end up later this year. At least for today we were left with a new memory of The Esplanade to hold onto.

ON Culture Days
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Photos by Anushay Sheikh

Eman Hillawi

Eman Hillawi, Aerialist

Eman is an award winning performer and professional aerialist based in Toronto, she is the founder of Dancing in Circles: Aerial Dance Studio, and co-founder at CirQular Motion (focussing on rehab and conditioning for circus artists and dancers). She works as an actress, dancer, aerialist and model for companies such as Paramount, LG, the CEBL,Samsung and much more! Eman discovered aerial arts in 2016 and was hooked immediately. She specializes in bar apparatus' such as aerial hoop, lollipop lyra and pole.

Check out Eman on Instagram

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Waleed Abdulhamid, Musician

Waleed is a Canadian Multi-instrumentalist; Composer; Vocalist; Music and Film Producer, known for his striking vocals, innovative bass technique, and his speed and precision on percussion. He has been an active member of the Toronto music scene since his arrival, in 1991 from Sudan, where he began to perform as early as six years old. He is the recipient of the Canadian New Pioneer Award; African Tama Award; Reel World Film Festival Award and Canadian Film Board of Excellence Award. In addition, he has not only received other international awards, but was also twice honoured with a DORA Award.

Check out Waleed on Instagram

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Njacko Backo, Musician

Juno-nominated Njacko Backo is a storyteller, songwriter, singer, musician and composer who has been performing for children and adults since his childhood in Cameroon. He has a lifetime of practice in capturing the subtlety of storytelling and dance with his music – an essential part of the African performing arts. His programs for children and youth draw on parallels and differences between Canadian and African family life while introducing a passion for the French language.

Check out Njacko on Instagram

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Kim Wheatley, Storyteller

Kim is Anishinaabe Ojibway from Shawanaga First Nations located in Georgian Bay Ontario. She is a multi award winning speaker, presenter, author, ceremonial practitioner, singer & handdrummer.

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Darwin Peters, Painter

Darwin is a painter based in Pikangikum First Nation, a community in Northern Ontario. His paintings combine traditional Woodlands art techniques with his own personal experiences and stories. As a result, his subject matter ranges from personal storytelling to pop culture references. When he is not painting, Darwin works at the Eenchokay Birchstick school as a tutor escort to support the young generation of Pikangikum.

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Linda Epp, Face Painter

Linda is a face painter for approximately 10 years. Her story with face painting began with her two children went out for Halloween one year when they were quite young. She went and bought some terrible (non FDA approved) paint at the dollar store and thought she could magically transform them. She later figured out that it didn’t quite work out that way, but she fell in love with the art of face painting. She has since honed her skills with workshops and many hours of practice. Linda has worked with many organizations such as the St. Lawrence BIA, Jamii, long term care facilities, local festivals and private birthday parties.

Caring Connections

In partnership with Ontario Culture Days

Caring Connections: From my heart to yours

FREE workshops & live musical/dance performances
Friday Sept 24 to Sunday Sept 26, 2021
David Crombie Park - Esplanade & George St South


Visual artist Saira Ansari guided participants in the creation of a collective fabric collage to be gifted to the Pikangikum community. This is part of a continued community sharing process between residents of the Esplanade, and those in Pikangikum First Nation in Northern Ontario.



Creative workshops were accompanied by live music with amazing artists: Lauren Barnett, Veronica Lee, Tangi Lion, Jerusa Leao, Katy Moonbean and Beny Esguerra.


Jamii was delighted to present “Two x 30”, a contemporary dance/live art performance directed by Michael Caldwell.  Two x 30 explores the inextricable link between our collective and unconscious patterns of movement and our environment.

Director: Michael Caldwell 

Sound Designer and Composer: Robbie Grunwald

Creative Collaborators and Performers: Pulga Muchochoma, Roberto Soria, Heidi Strauss

Production and Stage Managers: Helin Gungoren, A.J. Morra


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Photos by Jae Yang

I am me. I am mighty.


In partnership with Ontario Culture Days & Toronto Public Library - St Lawrence Branch

"I am me. I am mighty." was a celebration of culture as a thread that weaves our community together.

FREE workshops & live music
September 2019
Toronto Public Library - St Lawrence Branch


Activities included crafting led by May Massijeh; live music by Arlene Paculan and Aline Morales; drawing workshop with Connie Wang; live portraits drawing by Alison Garwood ;and story times by Sharon McMillan, St Lawrence Library and Parent Resources EarlyON CFC staff.