Top Indigenous Experiences in the Toronto Area

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For a glimpse of the culture, traditions, art and food of the people who first inhabited our land, try these experiences.

Events

Tales of an Urban Indian

Taking place on a moving bus, this unique theatre experience is a semi-autobiographical story of a contemporary First Nations man raised on the reserve in British Columbia and the streets of downtown Vancouver, and the array of characters that come in and out of his life. This dark comedy unfolds on a City of Mississauga MiWay transit bus as it makes its way around downtown Mississauga stopping at key points on the journey. May 26 to June 3, 2018.

Indigenous Arts Festival

To celebrate National Aboriginal Day, the Indigenous Arts Festival revels in Indigenous and Métis culture at Fort York National Historic Site. Spend the days under the open skies in downtown Toronto enjoying traditional and contemporary music, educational programming, storytelling, dance, theatre and food. The series of events will energize the grounds of this historic site with powerful ancient traditions and compelling contemporary creations by Indigenous artists. June 21 to 25, 2018.

As part of that celebration, thousands of people attend the Na-Me-Res Annual Traditional Pow Wow. See over 100 drummers and dancers perform, explore information booths, meet First Nations crafters and vendors and participate in activities and giveaways. June 23, 2018. Grand entry at noon.

bug

A timely reflection on the cycles of abuse and addiction in which too many Indigenous women in contemporary Canada find themselves, “bug” stars Yolanda Bonnell, an exciting young performer and playwright of Ojibwe and South Asian descent. June 23, 2018.

Masters Indigenous Games

The very first Masters Indigenous Games promises to be an exciting event showcasing prowess in a variety of contemporary and traditional sporting activities. The 2018 MIG is also an opportunity to learn about, celebrate and promote the cultures of Indigenous peoples from around the world. July 12 to 15, 2018.

ImagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival

ImagineNATIVE showcases, promotes and celebrates emerging and established Canadian and international Indigenous filmmakers and media artists. October 18 to 21, 2018.

Tours & Talks

Indigenous Environmental History of Toronto

Contemporary roads, rivers, parks and place names hint at Toronto’s rich and enduring Indigenous history. Jon Johnson, a university professor and researcher, will share this Indigenous history and demonstrate the intimate relationships Indigenous cultures had with plants, which were used as food and medicine. June 14, 2018.

Indigenous Learning in Wilket Creek Ravine

Join Alan of Toronto Aboriginal Eco Tours on a guided exploration of Wilket Creek Ravine, beginning with a sharing circle and smudge. Learn about Indigenous perspectives and relationships to other species, and discover how plants provided both food and medicine for Indigenous peoples that once called this land home. June 16 + check calendar for more dates.

First Story Toronto App & Bus Tour

The First Story app is an interactive map accessing original stories, photographs, archival documents, audio and video clips that illuminate the evolving Indigenous history of the Toronto area. Download through iTunes and Android Play Store. The First Story Toronto Bus Tour is a 3-hour tour of pre-contact and historical landmarks illustrating the Indigenous presence in Toronto. Discover the cultural geography and indigenous history of this land.

Food

Boralia

With an aim to revitalize cuisine from the early days, this Ossington Street restaurant does contemporary takes on dishes inspired by Native cuisine and the early settler diet, like venison liver and pigeon pie. Open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday.

NishDish

What began as a catering company is now a restaurant in Koreatown serving a rotating Anishnawbe menu. Expect mains using traditional native ingredients only, like roasted elk and venison stew. Open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Art & Artefacts

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The only publicly-funded fine art gallery in the nation that focuses on Canadian art and the Indigenous art of Canada, both historical and contemporary. The permanent collection is 6,400 artworks by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, their contemporaries and First Nations, Métis, Inuit and contemporary artists. The McMichael is also the custodian for the Cape Dorset archive, with more than 100,000 artworks.

Daphne Cockwell Gallery at Royal Ontario Museum

The continuing legacy of Canada’s First Peoples comes alive in this multi-layered gallery that discusses the complex relationship between past traditions and present life. Located on the main floor of the Hilary and Galen Weston Wing, the Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture, is one of the ROM’s premiere cultural spaces, featuring more than one thousand works of art and cultural heritage on permanent exhibition.

Indigenous art in the Art Gallery of Ontario
The Indigenous Collection /
Art Gallery of Ontario

Art Gallery of Ontario

Indigenous art at the AGO includes works from the First Peoples of North America as well as global Indigenous Art from Africa, Australia and the Torres Strait Islands. Indigenous Art is the oldest in the world and the collections reflect recent and historical practices and the continuities in between.

The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto

Located in the heart of Toronto within the Bloor Street Culture Corridor, the NCCT offers programs to residents and visitors can drop in to view the art on the walls of the centre. There are also two gift shops on site – once which benefits youth in the community – that are stocked with both traditional crafts and modern items for souvenirs of your visit.

Bata Shoe Museum

In among the rare European footwear and outrageous high heels is an extensive collection of Native American and Circumpolar footwear at this museum totally devoted to shoes.