In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, the City of Toronto is adding a Medicine Wheel and a new vinyl wrap to the Toronto Sign. The Medicine Wheel will be positioned before the sign’s “T”. The vinyl wrap will cover the outside of the Toronto Sign letters, and resembles birchbark inlaid with symbols of significance for Indigenous communities.
The Medicine Wheel will be part of the sign through the Canada Day weekend. It will return to Nathan Phillips Square in early October in advance of the Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Legacy Celebration taking place October 9 to 11 on Nathan Phillips Square, produced by Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre in collaboration with the City of Toronto. The vinyl wrap symbols will remain on the Toronto Sign until fall 2018.
“Toronto’s Indigenous roots and the vibrancy and diversity of its Indigenous communities are reflected in the Toronto Sign,” said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development Committee. “In this way, we are proud to mark Indigenous presence, historical and contemporary, in Toronto.”
“Miigwetch to the City of Toronto for honouring your commitment to the First Nations, Métis
and Inuit people of this land by incorporating the healing of the Medicine Wheel in the iconic Toronto Sign,” said Frances Sanderson, Co-Chair of the City’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee.
“The Medicine Wheel is a great addition to the Toronto Sign and positive action for National Indigenous Day. For Toronto Council Fire, we look forward to incorporating this into the IRSS Legacy Celebration in October 2018 on Nathan Phillips Square. It lends to a foundation in our partnership with the city that embraces a greater understanding and commitment to the Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Healing space being developed on the southwestern corner of Nathan Phillips Square,” said Andrea Chrisjohn, Board Designate, Toronto Council Fire Cultural Centre and Member of the City’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee.
This Medicine Wheel was chosen, in consultation with the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, as it is an emblem of North American Indigenous cultural values, tradition and spirituality. Its four directions (east, south, west and north) symbolize completeness, wholeness, connectedness and strength.
The vinyl wrap being installed on June 19 has symbols including feathers, fire, inukshuk, lacrosse sticks, medicine wheel/unity pin, Métis sash, Ojibway canoe, sweet grass braid, turtle, dreamcatcher and a wampum belt. The public can use the symbols as part of the TORONTOMOJI sticker pack for iOS and Android available at the iOS App Store (ow.ly/EvzE30cMnut) and Google Play for Android (ow.ly/YAFA30cMnBZ).
“City initiatives like these and the Indigenous Arts Festival are helping to build a tradition of Toronto profiling the Indigenous experience, past and present, at some of the city’s most accessible and prominent public locations,” said Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina), Co-Chair of the City’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee.
The City’s collaboration with Toronto’s Indigenous communities has resulted in the largest National Indigenous Peoples Day events in the city. From June 21 to 24, the free four-day Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York National Historic Site, produced in partnership with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, will showcase more than 30 performances by Indigenous artists from across Canada and will feature traditional and contemporary music, dance, theatre, storytelling, visual arts, crafts and food.
On June 23, the Indigenous Arts Festival will feature APTN’s Indigenous Day Live, Canada’s largest national celebration in recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ accomplishments through cultural activities and live music. A live national broadcast on APTN will feature concerts in Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa. More information on the events is available at toronto.ca/IAF.
The Toronto Sign was installed at Nathan Phillips Square in July 2015 for the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. Due to popular demand, the illuminated sign remains on the Square. Share pictures of the Toronto Sign by using the hashtag #xoTO. More information about the sign and related initiatives is available at toronto.ca/3dto.