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‘A powerful voice in promoting awareness and action in human rights’

The second annual Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival brings a diverse series of events to the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

After making a successful debut in 2017, the Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival is back for a second year with a diverse lineup that includes concerts, films, multimedia exhibitions and a trial for Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Isabel Human Rights Festival
The Isabel Human Rights Festival opens Monday, Feb. 26 with the Art of Time Ensemble’s A Singer Must Die – The Words & Music of Leonard Cohen featuring singers, clockwise from top left, Steven Page, Sarah Slean, Gregory Hoskins, and Tom Wilson. (Supplied Photo)

“The arts are a powerful voice in promoting awareness and action in human rights,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel. “We are privileged to partner with diverse artists and human rights activists who have dedicated their lives to create a fairer and inclusive future for humanity. Nothing could be more important in this challenging political world climate, in which we are now immersed, than to inspire people to actively participate and create a political and legal environment that will protect world citizens from prejudice, hatred, and violence.”

The festival opens Monday, Feb. 26 with the Art of Time Ensemble’s A Singer Must Die – The Words & Music of Leonard Cohen, featuring singers such as Sarah Slean, Steven Page, Tom Wilson, and Gregory Hoskins performing some of the Canadian music legend’s best-known works.

Then on Friday, March 16, CBC Radio’s Ideas will host Sir John A. Macdonald on Trial for a national broadcast. Jean Teillet, a renowned Métis lawyer, founder of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and the great-grandniece of Louis Riel, will act as prosecutor, while Frank Addario, an award-winning criminal defence lawyer as well as vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, will act as Macdonald’s legal defence. The event was initiated with the support of Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science.

Young talented women filmmakers will be in the spotlight during Flip the Script – Women, Cameras, and Justice. Features include: The Judge, directed by Erika Cohn (Thursday, March 8); The Hunting Ground, directed by Kirby Dick (Friday, March 9); An Evening of Indigenous Short Films, with four short films (Thursday, March 22); and Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, directed by Mouly Surya (Friday, March 23).

At the same time, the multimedia exhibition Voices – a multi-disciplinary showcase of painting, sculpture, costumes, and poetry that highlights and strengthens the marginalized voices that exist within the Queen’s community – will be hosted in The Isabel Art and Media Lab March 5-8.

On Saturday, March 17, the African Caribbean Students’ Association will present its annual Culture Show, with Queen’s students taking the stage with dance, spoken word, musical and theatrical expression and fashion. The event is also part of the group’s Black History Month celebrations.

A few days later on Tuesday, March 20, works by artists such as k.d. Lang, Billy Strayhorn, Rodgers & Hart, Ani DiFranco, Stephen Sondheim, and more, will be featured in Songs of Resilience, a concert by the Queer Songbook Orchestra.

The festival then concludes with H’art Centre’s A Gift from Martadella, with more than 40 local performers, most with developmental disabilities, in performances that showcase their talents as actors, musicians, and in the visual artists.

Full details and schedules are available online.

Tickets are available at The Isabel’s website or at 613-533-2424 (M-F, 12:30-4:30 pm).