Celebrating First Nations, Inuit and Métis Culture

May 19, 2016 | Sarah Weinrauch

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From Inuit legends to First Nations traditions, this June celebrate Toronto’s Indigenous culture and heritage with Toronto Public Library. There is something for everyone! At branches around the city, enjoy storytellers, writing workshops, films, author talks and lectures, eh List Author talks, musical performances and puppet shows. The library’s Aboriginal Celebrations are sponsored by TD Bank.

Various musicians, performers and storytellers.
Left to right, top to bottom: Aaron Bell, Chad Solomon, The Rabbit and Bear Paws Family, Kim Wheatley, Rosary Spence, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Red Slam Collective.

On Friday, June 10, the Indigenous Writers Gathering, an annual conference celebrating excellence in Indigenous storytelling and literature, will be held at the Toronto Reference Library. During the day, enjoy a panel discussion on preserving traditional stories and a workshop on articulating memories of the land through music, language and multimedia. During the evening, award-winning author Joseph Boyden hosts the gala, Honouring the Elders, which celebrates the achievements of First Nations Icons, Lee Maracle and Thomas King. Reservations are not required for the daytime programs; free tickets for the gala will be available starting Friday, May 13.

Authors Thomas King, Lee Maracle and Joseph Boyden
Authors Thomas King, Lee Maracle and Joseph Boyden


Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

Later in the month, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier will be speaking at the Toronto Reference Library. Direct from Iqaluit, Nunavut, the Inuit activist will be talking on global warming, the environment and her book The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet with political analyst and former TVO host Allan Gregg. This event will be held at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon; free tickets will be available starting Tuesday, May 24.

Other highlights include walking tours highlighting First Nations history right in your community; human rights lawyer Joanna Birenbaum on The Truth and Reconciliation Report: One Year Later; and a poignant presentation of an insider’s view of the residential school impacts using poetry, drawings and a memory map. Enjoy eh List author talks with Drew Hayden Taylor, Joan Crate and Senator Nick Sibbeston. Also, learn about The Ogimaa Mikana Project –- an initiative restoring the Anishinaabemowin names to Toronto’s streets.

Aboriginal Celebrations: Author Talks and Lectures
Left to right, top to bottom: Susan Blight, Drew Hayden Taylor, Brenda Wastasecoot, Hayden King, Joanna Birenbaum, Senator Nick G. Sibbeston and Joan Crate

Toronto Public Library’s Native Peoples Collection includes books, CDs and DVDs, as well as language-learning kits, by and about the Native Peoples of North America with special emphasis on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada. Housed at the Spadina Road Branch, North York Central Library and Toronto Reference Library, its focus is on contemporary topics and issues, though some historical material is available as well. If you are looking for a recommended read, enjoy our dynamic list of books, music and DVDs for all ages. Below are some highlights!


  A Gentle Habit    The Back of the Turtle   Celia's Song


  Sheila Watt-Cloutier_Right To Be Cold Stolen Sisters   A Knock on the Door  


Moonshot The Indigenous Comics Collection    Residential schools The devastating impact on Canada's Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's findings and calls for action    The Outside Circle   


Wild Barries = Pikaci-Minisa   Hawk   Hiawatha and the Peacemaker