For a glimpse at the culture, traditions, art and goods of the people who first inhabited this land, consider these Indigenous experiences in and around Toronto.
Toronto is a dynamic city full of diversity and different cultures. The Indigenous culture is one that we recognize and value. In fact, Toronto has the biggest Indigenous population in Ontario and the fourth biggest in the country. Learn more about Indigenous events and culture in the city with these top experiences:
Indigenous Arts & Artefacts
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection has an iconic collection of 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.
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
Indigenous art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (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 by Bloor Street and Spadina Road, The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto 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
Among the rare European footwear and outrageously high heels at the Bata Shoe Museum is an extensive collection of Native American and Circumpolar footwear at this museum totally devoted to shoes.
Traditional Indigenous Fare and Fusion Food
What began as a catering company is now a restaurant in Koreatown serving a rotating Anishinaabe menu. The mains at NishDish contain traditional, native ingredients only, like roasted elk and venison stew. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Experience a taste of First Nations cuisine at Tea-n-Bannock! On the menu you’ll find Bison Burgers, Bison or Elk Stew, Navajo Indian Tacos, Wild Rice Salad and more delicious dishes. Open Tuesday to Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Pow Wow Café
Located in the eccentric Kensington Market, Pow Wow Café was created by chef Shaw Adler who is of Anishinaabe and Jewish descent and has already opened several restaurants across the province. The café is known for their Ojibway-style bannock and frybread. Open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Indigenous Events and Celebrations
Please note that the following events and programming may be impacted in 2021 due to COVID-19. Check the event websites for more information.
Indigenous Arts Festival
To celebrate National Aboriginal Day, the Indigenous Arts Festival revels in Indigenous 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 free events will energize the grounds of this historic site with powerful ancient traditions and compelling contemporary creations by Indigenous artists.
Indigenous History Month Celebration
The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto (NCTT)’s annual Indigenous History Month Celebration takes places in Yonge-Dundas Square with local Indigenous craft vendors exhibiting and selling their wares and Indigenous agencies showcasing what they are doing in the community.
In recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, the annual Sunrise Ceremony takes place at Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto City Hall to help honour the history, culture and achievements of First Nations and Métis peoples
Na-Me-Res Traditional Pow Wow
This Annual Traditional Pow Wow by the Na-Me-Res is in recognition of National Aboriginal Day and the Summer Solstice. Every year, thousand of people attend the celebration to see over 100 drummers and dancers perform, explore information booths, meet First Nations crafters and vendors and participate in activities and giveaways.
Indian Residential School Survivor (IRSS) Legacy Project
Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre in partnership with the City of Toronto present the annual Indian Residental School Survivor (IRSS) Legacy Project Celebrations in Nathan Phillips Square. This event helps to celebrate diverse Indigenous Nations while honouring residential school survivors and their families. The event features workshops, ceremonies and events.
ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
The annual ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival showcases, promotes and celebrates emerging and established Canadian and international Indigenous filmmakers and media artists. The festival is the largest event of its kind across the globe and is one of the leading supporting and developing Indigenous media arts and in building relationships between communities.
Walking and Bus Tour of Indigenous Toronto
The First Story Toronto 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. First Story Toronto App & 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.
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