Explore Indigenous fashion, visual arts, film, media and culture in Toronto this summer into fall.
Summer is here and so are seven arts and cultural events, giving visitors and locals the opportunity to witness the brilliance of Indigenous artistry. From festivals to runway shows, art installations to gallery exhibits (and even a pow wow), these seven can’t-miss events will keep you busy through fall!
1. Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival
Drop by the Waterfront’s Harbourfront Centre for the Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival (June 9–12, 2022). Here, designers, stylists and fashion artists will share their interpretations of Walking with Light.
The theme encourages participants to consider the “relational undercurrents of the visionaries, stewards, knowledge keepers and connectors that keep our communities vibrant and resilient through life’s journey.”
This year, the festival has returned to an in-person format. Visit the marketplace to meet more than 60 skillful exhibitors or watch one of four theatrically produced runway shows. These runways will feature 25 talented designers, including Lesley Hampton, Evan Ducharme and Indi City. Workshops and panels will also be available for the public to participate in.
2. The Textile Museum of Canada: Double Vision
While you’re riding that textile high, drop by downtown’s Textile Museum of Canada for an exhibition featuring an art form called nivinngajuliaat.
These wall hangings are often brightly stitched and enhanced with appliqued images. Double Vision (now to March 31, 2023) is an exhibition showcasing the talent of Inuit artists Jessie Oonark and her daughters, Janet Kigusiuq and Victoria Mamnguqsualuk.
The works of these artists capture relational dynamics between people and animals and mentorship between women in the community.
3. Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York
Spend a summer weekend with friends and family at the Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York National Historic Site (June 18 and 19, 2022). This two-day festival is home to the annual Na-Me-Res Pow Wow, Indigenous Food Market and thrilling stage performances.
Make sure to arrive at the pow wow before noon on the Saturday to witness the Grand Entry, where over 100 drummers and dancers will share their skills. Stick around for the day to gather with others, connect with vendors and enjoy food options including traditional fare like tacos or corn soup with bannock.
4. Pride Toronto art installation: Duality Illuminated
Another great way to start your summer off right is by celebrating Two-Spirit artists at Pride Toronto. Tyler Burey is a multidisciplinary queer Indigenous artist from northern Ontario whose work conveys his exploration of identity.
Burey’s art installation, Duality Illuminated, uses large panels and light to creatively represent the depth and nuance of identity as a queer artist. The installation will be housed at stackt market on Bathurst Street during Pride Month (June 1–30, 2022).
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Explore the city while discovering Pride Month art installations created by 2SLGBTQ+ artists. Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ community has always played a pivotal role in shaping its contemporary art scene.
5. Musical artists at The Ex
Everyone loves the Canadian National Exhibition (a.k.a CNE or The Ex, August 19–September 5, 2022) for its ride midway, over-the-top carnival foods and live concerts. While The Ex is back this year as an in-person event, music lovers will find it as accessible as your laptop and couch!
In previous years live shows have included Indigenous artists like Buffy St. Marie and the Halluci Nation (previously known as A Tribe Called Red). This year, virtual performances will be available online through CNE Connected.
6. imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival (October 18–23, 2022 in-person, October 23–30, 2022 online) is the world’s biggest Indigenous screen content festival, now in its 23rd year. This year’s festival lineup showcases video, audio, and digital and interactive media — IRL and online — to meet you where you’re comfortable!
Celebrate the works of contemporary Indigenous artists, who are showcasing narrative sovereignty within the film and media arts industry.
(Visit the festival website for programming updates in the months to come.)
7. Kent Monkman’s Being Legendary at the ROM
Monkman, a Cree artist from Fisher River Cree Nation, will use his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, to interpret pieces from the ROM’s permanent collection alongside a selection of his new paintings.
Being Legendary is an ambitious exhibition that illustrates the depth of Indigenous knowledge, disrupts colonial agendas, and honours leaders who are lighting the way in Indigenous communities.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous communities have recognized and honoured the importance of art for connection, community and joy. For arts and culture lovers, these events offer a unique opportunity to engage in celebrations of Indigenous artistry — this summer and beyond.