Bringing a conference, trade show or business group to Toronto? Here are four Indigenous-owned businesses that provide unique educational, food, beverage and team-building experiences.
Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
A beautifully renovated, century-old Tudor Revival building on Spadina Rd. is home to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. The centre offers on-site tours of its extensive collection of Canadian Indigenous artwork — the largest such grouping in Toronto.
Planners are welcome to book the auditorium (capacity of 120 persons), or either of two smaller meeting rooms, says Hancharyk, who is also assistant manager of the on-site Cedar Basket Gift Shop, a great place for delegate gifts.
The experience: The tour starts outside where guide Siera Hancharyk touches on the history of the building and the totem pole carved by artist Don McLeay. As visitors walk through the building — an active space used daily by community members — Hancharyk explains the significance of the many paintings, sculptures, beadwork and other pieces on display, including works by Richard Bedwash, who apprenticed with Norval Morrisseau, as well as artist Benjamin Chee Chee.
Idea file: Planners are welcome to book the auditorium (capacity of 120 persons), or either of two smaller meeting rooms, says Hancharyk, who is also assistant manager of the on-site Cedar Basket Gift Shop. The shop is a great resource for speaker, VIP and delegate gifts, offering a wide selection of First Nations, Métis and Inuit handcrafted jewelry, carvings, basketry, beadwork and paintings.
Cooking With the Wolfman
Chef David Wolfman is an expert in wild game and traditional Aboriginal cuisine and renowned for his signature Indigenous Fusion style. A classically trained chef, Wolfman is also a professor of culinary arts at George Brown College in Toronto.
The experience: As a culinary consultant, Chef Wolfman works closely with planners to understand the significance and the desired experience or outcome of their special events. He then works with caterers or venue kitchen staff to design custom menus. A natural storyteller, Chef Wolfman enjoys sharing the significance of Indigenous culinary traditions with dinner guests. “I think the most important ingredient in the food is the story,” Chef Wolfman explains. “Food isn't just about food. It's about sharing and talking and stories.”
Red Tape Brewery
When Sarabeth and Sean Holden’s son, Raymond, was born, the family celebrated the occasion with Sean’s homebrewed, orange and ginger-flavoured Celebration Saison beer. Five years later, Red Tape Brewery crafts a line of pilsners, stouts, porters, ales and lagers and works directly with clients to design and brew bespoke beers for special occasions.
Oceah Oceah SUP & Yoga began 11 years ago and is a true family affair. With each of five sisters — Jenifer, Sharon, Tara, Lana and Robyn — contributing in their unique ways, Oceah Oceah offers summertime adventure for every skill level from two waterfront locations on either side of Toronto’s downtown core.
The experience: “As Indigenous women, we have a responsibility to the water, learning about it, honouring it and being the caretakers of it,” Jenifer Rudski explains. “We believe that by connecting people to the water, they relate to it and think about it in different ways.”
Idea file: Oceah Oceah’s SUP and yoga classes are perfect for teams looking to create deeper connections. “Many people, myself included, find healing just by being on the water. We do group classes multiple times a week during the summer and almost everybody we work with, even though they're from all different walks of life, ages and backgrounds, connect with each other and really open up,” Rudski says.