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Culture Days:

We are hosting the Cultural Tile Mosaic Project in several locations throughout Simcoe County. Let’s discover together what makes us all unique. You can register or drop-in and create an original artwork that showcases your cultural expression! Using a wooden 4X4 tile and paint, bring to life who you are; no previous art experience required. Imagine if you could show what your culture means to you in a painted tile and that piece became part of a larger mosaic project called “Culture Across Our County”- this is your chance! All are welcome and find a location nearest to you.

Visit the Culture Days website to learn more about other cultural events going on in Simcoe County between between September 22nd – October 15, 2023:

Orillia Public Library – Saturday September 23 at 10:30 am (all ages)

MacLaren Art Centre – Saturday October 7 at 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm (all ages)

Innisfil ideaLAB & Library – Wednesday October 11 at 3:00 pm (For Seniors)

Kempenfest Event:

The history of Kempenfest:  In 1971 a handful of artists gathered in Barrie at the Formosa Springs Brewery to display their art on snow fencing and hopefully sell a few pieces. It was the birth of what would eventually be called Kempenfest. Kempenfest (Barrie) Inc is a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to produce an annual art and music festival in Barrie. Fast forward 50 years and Kempenfest is now one of the largest outdoor arts, crafts, and music festivals in Ontario.  Kempenfest has given back over $10 million to our community since its inception over 50 years ago. Kempenfest is for people of all ages – there is something for everyone.

In 2022 the Kempenfest organizing committee were looking to highlight different cultural experiences since they recognized the growing population changes happening in Barrie.  Making Change came on board to provide exactly that – cultural “edutainment”.  Emancipation Day fell on the same weekend which is an important day for Black Communities in Canada.  On August 1st we celebrate the day in history when slavery was abolished across the British Empire (including Canada).  At Kempenfest Making Change Program Director Laura LaChapelle & Board Chair Michele Newton provided a dedication at Kempenfest for Emancipation 2022.

Carnival North Event:

When two island gals, Kicha Holden and Hillary BURKE, got to talking about where they came from (Jamaica and Trinidad), how they came to Collingwood and how important their culture is to their identity, the idea for Carnival North was born. Dating back hundreds of years to the time of slavery, J’ouvert, Mardi Gras and Caribana are all version of a festival that has become a cornerstone of Caribbean culture. Carnival North is an all-day, family-friendly event. Starting at 11am, The Collingwood Brewery will become an island oasis of Caribbean music, food, drink, and tons of activities for kids, including complimentary face painting. Don’t miss the hottest party of the summer—it starts early and goes late into the night! Making Change was on hand with their own space for festival attendees to add their handprint to our Diversity Tapestry. It’s events such as this one where people are looking to find more representation, resources and new cultural learning experience.

Diversity Tapestry:

Our Diversity Tapestry started off as a creative way for people to show their support for diversity. By putting your handprint of a paint colour that speaks to how you see your natural shade & beauty, you can identify your natural colour. If everyone starts to do that what we see is a range of shades, of the natural colour of people. We start to realize that we are all different and yet together in our communities. This tapestry will pick up the diversity that we see in Simcoe County, in our schools and in our neighbourhoods. As we travel to different events over the year everyone will get a chance to add their handprint to the tapestry. Our hope is that we will fill this canvas art piece and then get a chance to create the Diversity Tapestry into a unique artistic display that is uniquely Simcoe County in all it’s natural beauty.

It Starts campaign

IT STARTS is a public awareness campaign designed to take a proactive step towards addressing racism and discrimination in Simcoe County.
IT STARTS works to promote a unified community that encourages collective action against racism and discrimination.

Take Action:

  • Educate yourself, understand about racism and share your knowledge
  • Pick up your campaign card at your local library or go to
  • Post your picture of your campaign card with the hashtag: #ITSTART and tag @CountyofSimcoe 
  • Perform acts of inclusivity (host a multicultural lunch, learn about different cultures, ask questions, read international authors)
  • Challenge friends, family members, colleagues, and community leaders to take a stand.  There is strength in numbers!

#ITSTARTS panel video for March 21, 2022 International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination

#ITSTARTS panel video for the March 21, 2023 International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination Allyship event