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  • 30 Jun 2023 1:24 PM | Bernadette Ward (Administrator)

    Carlene Ling (right) as a Community Spirit Awards nominee with Mayor Rob Burton

    An interview with Carlene Ling aka Vanda Li
    By Joanne MacNair

    As Black Music Month wraps up for this year, I thought I might take some time before the end of my internship with the Oakville Arts Council to chat with Carlene Ling, the woman determined to bring awareness of the value of Black Music and Black culture to Halton region and Canada.

    Recently Carlene, also known as Vanda Li, found allies in local mayor’s Rob Burton (Oakville) and Marianne Meed Ward (Burlington) to hold flag raising ceremonies on June 1 at their respective Town Halls. Quite an achievement, and a colourful musical addition to June’s culture calendar of events and the successful and lively Black Music on the Block which took place at Town Square on George Street. 

    When Ling refers to Black music, she has Afro-Caribbean music in mind. It’s a genre that’s a fusion of different cultures, sounds and styles. Dating back to the 1500’s, it’s influenced by African, Indigenous and even European cultures and includes sub-genres such as ska, reggae, calypso, salsa, merengue and more.

    Born in the Caribbean herself, her parents were professionals from Trinidad who immigrated to Burlington under Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s ‘Open Door Policy. Activism in the arts seems to run in the family with Ling’s late uncle having been a founder of the Hamilton Caribana and her late aunt, Juliet Hamilton involved in bringing multicultural events to Spencer Smith park in the 1990's and early 2000’s.

    After graduating from MM Robinson High school in Burlington, Ling studied at Sheridan in the musical theatre program. She left before graduation to have her oldest daughter and moved to Oakville. As a young, single mother she added two more daughters to her family along with diplomas from the Halton Business Institute in Administrative studies with specialization in Medical Office and another in Social Service Worker from Humber College - graduating from both with Honours.

    She was accepted to the BSW program at York and attended for a few years, but eventually decided to take a break. She worked contract jobs in employments services while raising her daughters but dreamt of a different direction for her life.

    Carlene Ling (left) at the Junos with daughter Adria Kain a Juno nominee.

    She took a swing at song writing, creating the song “
    Rise Up” with her friend and producing it with her oldest daughter Adria, now a Juno-nominated singer. Not finished with change, she started BLing Events International Entertainment Black African Caribbean Canadian Artists Unite to promote Black artists and Black musicians in Canada.

    A nominee for the Town of Oakville Community Spirit Awards, Carlene is driven to promote the younger generation of Black artists and performers and is looking to collaborate with others to move her vision forward.

    I love Halton. It’s a beautiful place to live but there is little to no representation of Black culture in the festivals and events so I decided to try to create something that more people can enjoy and experience the authentic music and culture that the Black and Afro Caribbean community and all residents can enjoy right here in our hometown,” said Ling via email.

    Carlene Ling/Vanda Li:
    Performing Artist /Singer, Event Curator & Executive Producer
    Founder /Director / CEO , BLing Events International Entertainment (BEI)
    Black African Caribbean Canadian Artists Unite (BACCAU) & CRAFT
    Business Line:(647) 572-4976


  • 15 Jun 2023 4:36 PM | Bernadette Ward (Administrator)

    t’s so good to see people attending events in person again! The Oakville Arts Council (OAC) team was pleased to attend the annual Community Spirit Awards, held by the Town of Oakville on June 8, 2023, at Queen Elizabeth Park Community & Cultural Centre.

    Each year, we nominate an artist or arts organization for the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award  (thank you Oakville Beaver, many years the sponsor in this category!) and we pretty much always attend to applaud the incredible contributions these volunteers bring to the community. Also, we enjoy the desserts and the entertainment. Kudos to emcee Chris Mei and the Oakville Symphony Youth Orchestra.

    The awards gifted to the winners this year were an homage to the fibre arts. Created by local artist Rafia Shafiq (pictured below), who specializes in phulkari embroidery, each of the intricate, colourful works represented the values of each category. In this video, Rafia talks about her creative process when making each of the awards.

    Congratulations to The Oakville Diwali Committee and Reem Al-Rawi, winners in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award for 2023 and also to those nominated:

    The winners in the remaining categories are:

    • Hannah Kohler and Mervyn Russell, Climate Action Award sponsored by FirstOntario Credit Union
    • Penny Smith and Kim Melhuish, Good Neighbour Award sponsored by Chartwell Retirement Residences
    • Gennile Thomas-Smith, Marlyne Van Exan and Nic Hotchkiss, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Award sponsored by Access Abilities
    • Lionel Latter, Lorna Van de Mosselaer and Patrick Gorman, Inspiration Award sponsored by RBC Royal Bank
    • Desmond Jordan and Grant Foster, Leadership and Innovation Award – sponsored by Amica Seniors Lifestyles

    For more information about the Community Spirit Awards, visit the Town of Oakville’s website:

    To see more photos from the event:

  • 31 Mar 2023 1:11 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    The Oakville Symphony has entered a new and exciting chapter: beautiful venue, new season and new Music Director.

    We sat down with their Music Director, Lorenzo Guggenheim, to talk about what the Oakville Symphony (OS) has planned for the upcoming season. 

    The OS is a thriving community symphony orchestra aiming to bring a spectacular experience of music to an audience of all ages. The OS is composed of a diverse group of talented musicians along with guest artists from all over the world.

    Lorenzo Guggenheim is an expert conductor with an impressive career, spanning from his native Argentina to working on Canadian and International stages. It’s no surprise then that he has big ambitions for the OS. For instance, to make the shows more accessible for everyone, the OS has introduced free admission for anyone under the age of 18.

    The OS is committed to showcasing diverse voices and talents; in their upcoming season, composer Jessie Montgomery will be featured with the Canadian premiere of one of her latest work Overture and they are commissioning new works from Nadya Poklad, an artist who immigrated from Ukraine.

    There’s something for everyone to enjoy at their show but for some, there are misconceptions that linger.

    What if I don’t know anything about music? Where should I sit? What if I get bored? What should I wear?

    The Oakville Symphony wants to dispel these misconceptions: 

    • You don’t need any prior music knowledge to enjoy their shows. The Oakville Symphony play a wide range of music from renowned international musicians in addition to a classical repertoire. 
    • Every seat in their intimate, smaller-sized venue, Oakville Centre, has a great view of the stage. 
    • If you’re concerned about being distracted, don’t be. Each show is presented in two halves, each 40 minutes long, with ashort intermission to stretch your legs and check your phone. Drinks are served before the show starts and at intermission
    • As for a dress code, come as you are. Saturday evenings can be considered semi-formal and Sunday matinee shows are more casual, but there are no rules.

    You can get tickets here to enjoy a special evening of music from the Oakville Symphony.

  • 09 Mar 2023 1:00 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    The Oakville Symphony is delighted to present a Marimba Concerto by Brazilian composer Ney Rosauro, featuring Oakville Symphony’s own percussionist Bryan Allen. Along with this aurally and visually spectacular work for marimba and string orchestra, attendees will be able to enjoy Johann Strauss Jr’s masterpiece overture, Die Fledermaus. The concert will be rounded out with the magnificent Symphony No. 2 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. 

    Dates: Saturday April 1, 2023 from 7:30 - 9:30pm | Sunday April 2, 2023 from 2 - 4pm.  

    Venue: The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts

    For tickets, visit

  • 21 Feb 2023 12:36 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    Young artists will be thrilled with Oakville Galleries’ March Break Art Camp. Designed to keep kids inspired while school’s out, participants will make lots of artwork using new techniques and creativity. 

    Each day will have a different theme with fun-filled projects for your budding artist. Kids will be able to expand their thinking, burn energy outside and get inspired by the winter landscape in Gairloch Gardens (dress warmly!).

    March Break Camp: Art Adventurers (Ages 6 – 9)
    March Break Camp: Art Masters (Ages 10 – 12)

    Member: $238.00 | Non Member: $280.00 

    Date: March 13 - 17, 2023 from 9am - 4pm

    Venue: Oakville Galleries, Main Floor Education Centre

    For registration, visit oakvillegalleries.comRegistration Closes Friday, 3 March 2023

  • 05 Jan 2023 2:58 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    Join us as the Oakville Chamber Orchestra celebrates its first show of 2023. Enjoy Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons performed by Joelle Crigger, the 2022 senior category 1st place winner! English favourites by Edward Elgar and Benjamin Britten round out the program.

    Date: February 25, 2023 at 7:30pm

    Venue: Oakville Centre, AEG Liebherr Auditorium

    For tickets, visit

  • 05 Jan 2023 2:30 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    Celebrate the uniqueness of Oakville through photography! The Oakville Camera Club invites you to submit your photos to the 17th Annual Capture Oakville Photography Competition.

    Categories include Street Photography, People and Portraits, Black and White, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife, and Exploration. 

    Deadline: Feb 6, 2023 at 11:59pm EST.

    For more information and electronic submissions go to

  • 24 Oct 2022 2:08 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    Join us as the Oakville Symphony celebrates a new season under the leadership of a new music director. Enjoy the Canadian premiere of Pivot, a lively short piece by English composer Anna Clyne.

    In true celebratory fashion, we revel in the majestic strains of the last symphony ever written by Franz Joseph Haydn, No. 104 — the noble London Symphony. We welcome brilliant Anglo-Canadian cellist Paul Marleyn back to the stage to perform Elgar’s beautifully elegiac Cello Concerto in E minor. 

    Date: Saturday November 5th, 7:30 - 9:30pm

    Venue: Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, 130 Navy Street, Oakville Ontario L6J 2Z4

    For tickets, visit

  • 24 Oct 2022 1:59 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    Enjoy the many benefits of creating soothing natural salves from botanicals and herbs in a half-day retreat, Soothing the Senses, presented by Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre. You will be immersed in a community circle, learn about abhyanga massage and make your own massage oil.

    This massage oil is encouraged to be used every morning before you shower. It is a beautiful daily ritual to soothe you during the wintertime. Surrender into a restorative yoga practice, followed by deep meditation. You will create and take home a salve and massage oil.

    Date: Sunday November 20th, 1 - 5pm

    Venue: Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre, 1086 Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Oakville, ON L6H7B2 

    For registration, visit

  • 23 Aug 2022 3:34 PM | Anusha Rajeswaran

    Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre presents Felting Spirit Guides with Steven Botelho. Join needle felting artist Steven Botelho for this 6-week workshop as you work step by step with him on this immersive and heartfelt course.

    You will be guided in the delicate process of working with various wools and materials to create your own Spirit Buck which embodies leadership, virility, grace and regeneration.

    Date: September 30th - November 4th, 2022 from 9:30am - 12pm

    Venue: Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre, 1086 Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Oakville, ON L6H7B2

    For registration, visit

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Phone: (905) 815-5977  |  Email:  |  Address: 2302 Bridge Road, Oakville, ON, L6L 2G6

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