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Destination Niagara Falls News - May 2018



A view of the exhibition floor at CONNECT from the upper level of the Scotiabank Convention Centre.

Photos: Allison Smith

In our rush to embrace technology and interpret big data, we can’t forget that the most powerful human connection happens through storytelling.

This is just one of the takeaways from CONNECT, Canada’s largest educational technology conference hosted from April 24 to 27 at Niagara Falls’ Scotiabank Convention Centre. The four-day event brought together a community of more than 2,000 passionate educators, leaders, chief information others, directors of education, IT experts and others to learn from one another, debate and exchange ideas and network.

While audiences packed the Fallsview Theatre to hear world-renowned experts take the stage to discuss a diverse set of topics, the exhibition hall bustled with vendors from educational institutions to tech companies. A stroll down Startup Alley revealed a range of entrepreneurs looking to connect with businesses in the ed-tech market.

Open data plays an integral role in our understanding of education, technology, politics and local culture across Niagara and the world, so it was fitting that representatives from Niagara Open Data were one of many vendors that drew interest from conference attendees.

Any citizen can log on to to browse data from various organizations across Niagara, including municipalities, community groups, provincial agencies, not-for-profits, schools and more. The data is managed by a consortium of people from these organizations who share a common goal of increasing openness and access to data in Niagara.


Connie McCutcheon, business analyst and Nathan Childs, information and research coordinator/analyst, both with Niagara Region, represented Niagara Open Data at CONNECT.

Open data’s impact on the local tourism sector has been overwhelmingly positive. On, you’ll find datasets on everything from locations of battles in the War of 1812 to wine routes and winery locations, parks and the region’s network of cycling trails to points of interest along the Welland Canal, and outdoor art displays. A set of the region’s sports facilities was recently posted, with assistance from, a Niagara-based company that gathers and analyzes data for clients. Niagara Open Data often works with local companies, groups, and organizations to publish clean and accurate datasets.

The data are downloadable in multiple formats, so whether you’re using a basic spreadsheet program or mapping application, they’re ready to go.
“Since a lot of the information is geo-spatial located, by bringing it into a smartphone app, you could use an individual’s location to identify what’s around them and what’s in their vicinity,” said Nathan Childs, Information and Research Coordinator/Analyst at Niagara Region. All this data being publicly available leads to more people getting out to explore Niagara.

“I’m an immigrant resident of Niagara. Coming in, I didn’t know much about (the region). I had visited once or twice but I really didn’t know what was beyond that major tourism centre. There’s a lot that Niagara offers more inland,” said Childs. “Leveraging the data can drive you (to explore) the beautiful Beamsville Bench, Lincoln, and Grimsby. Through the data, you can discover all those elements that pull you out there.”

Ball’s Falls may be a point on a map, but data can tell us what amenities are available at our local conservation areas, so companies using it to create interactive maps or applications can help visitors improve on their experience. In the education sector, open data is making its way into the classroom, where students leverage it to learn about our local lakes and the Welland Canal, culturally significant spots, the historical events that shaped the region, and more.

Anyone from entrepreneurs, students and active citizens to public officials can use open data to tell compelling stories and create applications to help people discover hidden gems throughout the region. Visit for more information.


Using storytelling to overcome 21st-century communication barriers

While today’s workforce is inundated with learning new technologies, we struggle to use them to foster meaningful human connection. This has thrown the modern workforce into chaos But there is hope - if we understand how each generation communicates differently.

Dr. Mary Donohue, a leading social scientist who heads a team of product designers and educators at Donohue Learning, was Thursday morning’s keynote speaker. Through her work, she helps organizations increase engagement, innovation and collaboration within their teams.

In her talk titled “You, Us, Them; Understanding Your Communication Capital”, Donahue discussed how the disconnect between managers, employees, teachers and students in our classrooms and workplaces is costing our economy and hindering our productivity.


 Keynote speaker and social scientist Dr. Mary Donohue speaks to a rapt audience about communication capital. 

With the advent of the smartphone and other digital technology more than 10 years ago, society shifted from a culture of words to a culture of typing, but workplaces, institutions and others failed to make the change and adapt to the new pattern. This failure to connect is “killing your productivity. It’s happening in classrooms, it’s killing your students’ ability to learn...each generation processes information differently through technology.”

A wide variance in communication styles and expectations among baby boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials and Gen Ys is creating a profound disconnect in terms of how each generation communicates in the workplace. While boomers expect emails to be grammatically correct and formal, Generation X looks for bullet points. Millennials expect more informal communication, while Generation Z is savvy with their data and slow to trust.

“If we look at how we communicate with each other as the new currency of the fourth industrial revolution, what is the one thing we do better than computers? Talk to each other. That’s where all the great ideas come from, where creative people get their ideas is from getting stuff done...the only way you can solve problems is to be productive, and we know we’re not being productive.”

In fact, she cited a 2014 Gallup Poll that stated that 70 percent of people were disengaged at work. “Eight out of 10 people you sit in a meeting with aren’t paying attention.”

A generational difference guide indicates the contrasting communication styles of generations in our 21st-century workforce.

She mentioned William Edwards Deming, an American engineer, statistician, and management consultant who is best known for his work in Japan with leaders of Japanese industry after WWII. He is often credited with helping to inspire Japan to become the second-largest economy in the world and overtake the North American car manufacturing industry. Donohue proposed that Deming’s model of productivity could be adapted to the technology industry.

Donohue capped her speech on a high note by lighting the fact that though our differences in skills, experiences, and outlooks are vast, these obstacles can be overcome. Simply gaining insight into each generation’s expectations in the workplace and beyond is key to overcoming communication barriers, she said. And one thing hasn’t changed is that human connection can be fostered through storytelling.

“Stories always work,” and is the one commonality in our learning styles, she explained.

 The next generation of entrepreneurs learns how to create and give a pitch to potential investors.



The lobby/sitting area of the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.

About Scotiabank Convention Centre
Niagara’s largest conventions and meeting facility, Scotiabank Convention Centre offers 300,000 square feet of convention space. Centrally located in the Fallsview Entertainment District steps away from the famous Niagara Falls, the centre is within walking distance to 4,000 branded guest rooms and easy access to wine country.

Contact the centre to book your next convention or event today.


Spring Handmade Market
May 11 to 12
13th Street Winery, St. Catharines


Shop, Sip and Savour at Niagara's premiere outdoor handmade market featuring 140+ Artisans from across Ontario, Quebec and the East Coast, gourmet food trucks, wines by the glass, bakery and marketplace, live music and more!

1000’s of one-of-a-kind handcrafted items and artisan made products at one location. Be unique. Shop local. Feel good!

WHERE: 13th Street Winery, St. Catharines, ON
WHEN: Friday, May 11, 2018 from 11 am to 7 pm
Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm

Admission is $6 (Under 16 free) cash at door. Free on-site field parking. ATM available. Runs in all weather.

See the Handmade Market Facebook Event

Photo: 13th Street Winery




Makers MarkIT May
May 12 to 13
Honsberger Estate Winery, Lincoln

Creative makers in a barn!
Drink, food and handmade gift items for everyone. Made local by locals celebrating craft in niagara.
Winery is releasing new vintages this weekend as well!

See the Makers MarkIT May Facebook Event

Photo: Honsberger Estate Winery

Photo: Heartland Forest 



Party in the Vineyard: Food Truck Edition
May 19 to 21
Peller Estates Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake

Featuring 20 Food Trucks + Pop-up Vendors. Gather your friends and family and join us for the May long-weekend as we celebrate the unofficial start of summer with a Party in the Vineyard! Wine, food, entertainment and an amazing view with good company... what more could you ask for? Don't miss Chef Parsons’ Barrel House Grill with some of the most daring, tasty and innovative food available, alongside our award-winning VQA Peller wines.

Join us on Saturday or Sunday evening for our 19+ Night Under the Stars featuring a DJ, interactive games, and dancing. On Monday afternoon our all-ages event has live music and activities for the entire family.

Tickets are only $20 per person + taxes and fees. Your ticket includes entrance to the event, one glass of wine and a souvenir glass. Please do not bring food, alcohol, pets, tents or chairs to the event as they will not be permitted. Monday tickets for children age 2-18 are $10 and children under 2 years old are free. Photo: Peller Estates Winery


See these and more photos of this month's events on our Facebook page, and be sure to 'Like' us! Get out and enjoy all Niagara has to offer!



A Handmade Holiday - Hello Spring Craft Show and stroll through Heartland Forest - Niagara Falls

Photos: Allison Smith


Photos from our Media Partner


Live Well Health and Wellness Fair - White Oaks Resort and Spa, Niagara-on-the-Lake

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