Toronto hosts an incredible array of Indigenous talent, with creators working in fine arts, artisan crafts, fashion and accessories, and food and cultural experiences.
Indigenous communities have been honing their creation skills since long before Canada existed. Skills such as basket weaving, beading and cooking have been passed down from generation to generation and are here now to be shared and experienced.
So while you’re exploring the city known as Toronto, support local and Indigenous artists. Here’s where to source can’t-find-anywhere-else souvenirs and unforgettable experiences.
Indigenous arts & artisan crafts
1. Inuit sculpture at the Craft Ontario Shop
Their retail store sells hand-carved Inuit sculptures (a whole area dedicated to them), which means that every piece you buy is one of a kind. They also carry work from the renowned Cape Dorset, Nunavut printmaking scene, such as drawings by Inuit artists Padloo Samayualie and Shuvinai Ashoona. Don’t miss out!
2. First Nations artisan crafts at The Cedar Basket
While you’re trekking down iconic Spadina Road, don’t forget to make a stop at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, where the Cedar Basket Gift Shop is located. It’s an Indigenous-owned and operated store that works directly with Indigenous vendors to sell artisan crafts such as beaded barrettes, bath and body products and blankets.
3. Handcrafted leather bags at Outlier Leather
Indigenous Peoples have always known how to engage sustainably with the land and waters, and Outlier Leather Co. (located in The Danforth Greektown) embodies this knowledge in the creation of owner/creator David Spence’s handmade leather bags.
Spence is a Nisichawayasihk artisan from Winnipeg who only works with ethically sourced materials, including eco-conscious tanneries. His handcrafted leather bags are designed to last and are beautiful to boot.
Indigenous fashion & accessories
4. Streetwear from Resist Clothing
Wearable souvenirs are some of the greatest souvenirs—and Resist Clothing Co. has got you covered. For some original, Indigenous-designed tees, sweatshirts, hats and more, keep an eye out for a Resist Clothing Co. pop-up in Toronto.
Their bold designs and powerful statements (from “Decolonize” sweatshirts to “LandBack” caps) will have everyone turning heads and asking you all about your latest shopping spree. Looking for the OG souvenir tee? Reach for their “Tkaranto, Turtle Island” souvenir hoodie.
5. Clothing, housewares and jewelry at Pacha Indigenous Art Collection
Pacha Indigenous Art Collection is an Indigenous family-owned business that honours the ties between southern Indigenous communities and Indigenous communities in and around Tkaronto.
Consider a rumpa infinity scarf hand-loomed from reclaimed thread by Kichwa artisans (known as master weavers in the Peguche region of Ecuador) or striking blue porcupine quill earrings by Mestizo-Indigenous artist Marcos Arcentales. Drop by to support their work and get a glimpse into the communities they’re celebrating.
Indigenous food and drinks
6. Traditional Indigenous cuisine at Tea N Bannock
That includes classics like the name would suggest: tea and bannock, as well as more robust dishes such as wild rice and bison steak. Try the stew of the day, which includes house-smoked elk or bison. Sweet treats include blueberry bannock dumplings and fry bread ready for dipping into maple syrup.
If you’re looking to connect with these lands through your tastebuds, Tea N Bannock is a must-stop location! (Don’t forget souvenirs like local honey or hand-picked Labrador tea.)
7. Birch Bark Coffee… and coffee ice cream!
Birch Bark Coffee Co. can be found in eclectic Kensington Market (it’s carried at Sanagan’s Meat Locker). With ethical practices, and a drive to change the world through organic coffee growing and Fair Trade labour practices, there’s no better company to buy your coffee from.
And if you like the sweeter versions of coffee, this rad, Indigenous-owned company recently collaborated with ice cream maker Chapman’s on a Cold Brew Coffee ice cream that can be found at local supermarkets, including Loblaws and Metro. Whether you like your coffee hot or cold, they’re not to be missed!
Indigenous-led tours and experiences
8. Walking tours with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
Connect with the history and current stories of Indigenous Peoples and communities that live and thrive in—and before—Toronto.
This free tour ($1-5 donation recommended) will bring you through Tkaronto and down Ishpadinaa (Spadina Road) to highlight the largest collection of Indigenous artwork in the city, share a few key phrases from traditional languages and learn more about major landmarks and historical events from an Indigenous perspective.
9. A Humber River paddling tour or Sunset Paddle with Oceah Oceah
The team at this Indigenous and woman-owned business is friendly and supportive as they guide stand-up paddleboarding tours down the west end’s Humber River and towards the Toronto Islands, amongst other offerings at their Budapest Park waterfront location at Sunnyside.
Take time to relax and connect on Lake Ontario with Oceah Oceah.
10. Craft workshops with Sticks n’ Bones Studios
Sticks n’ Bones Studios is the place for a fun, hands-on crafting experience. Based in the city’s Riverside area, they offer craft workshops on the land. From making moccasins to dreamcatchers crafted from locally sourced materials, it’s an experience you’ll never forget, with souvenirs built in.