Celebrate Canada's Indigenous Heritage

May 23, 2017 | Sarah Weinrauch

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From lectures, discussions and stories to puppet shows, films and musical performances, celebrate the culture of Turtle Island's Indigenous heritage and culture, featuring First Nations, Métis and Inuit writers and artists. Sponsored by TD Bank Group, these programs and more, for all ages, are at library branches across the city.

Kicking things off, the University of Toronto's Mykelle Pacquing teaches us Oji-Cree writing symbols and how to speak Anishinaabemowin.  Tribal Vision Dance Company, featuring world champion singers and dancers in Powwow & Haudenosaunee styles, brings a vibrant, fun and high energy multimedia performance to York Woods Branch. And assistant curator at the ROM, Arni Brownstone, presents Anishinaabeg Art and Power, a journey through the artistic evolution of one of the most populous and diverse Indigenous communities in North America.


Collage of Indigneous Celebration 2017 featured guests
Top Row, L to R: Chad Solomon, Lee Maracle and Mykelle Pacquing; Middle Row: Tribal Vision Dance; Bottom Row, L to R: Lisa Charleyboy, Gerald McMaster and Cherie Dimaline

Enjoy a variety of National Film Board films by indigenous filmmakers and writers, including Alanis Obomsawin and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. Kim Wheatley of Shawanaga First Nation Reserve teaches us how to make a traditional bone bracelet. And on Thursday, June 22, in partnership with Pen Canada, Lee Maracle, Cherie Dimaline, Lisa Charleyboy and Gerald McMaster analyze the effects of mainstream Indigenous success on native communities.

This summer, Toronto will host the Native American Indigenous Games; this event is expected to be the largest sporting and cultural gathering of Indigenous Peoples in North America. Team 88 teaches us all about the games, cool sports, and the positive impacts on the pathway to reconciliation. The whole family will enjoy all-ages programs, such as Rabbit and Bear Paw puppet shows, and many others. Plus, listen to some traditional drumming and get crafty with pine cones and in making iggaak (snow goggles). 

Check out the opening gala for Our Stories, Our Truths, the art exhibit at Parliament Street Branch. Explore our responsibilities as keepers of knowledge, song and memory with "Bizindamowin" (learning from listening). And Haudenosaunee artist Aura will lead teens in self-love, self-care art as healing and storytelling.

Our Native Peoples Collection is available year round and features books, CDs and DVDs, and 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 some of the latest in books, music and DVDs, take a look at our curated list of recommended reads for all ages.

Son of A Trickster by Eden Robinson    Take Us To Your Chief by Drew Hayden Taylor    Passage by Gwen Benaway
Love Beyond Body, Space, & Time edited by Hope Nicholson    Rez Runaway by Melanie Florence    Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Robbie Robertson - Testimony   A Tribe Called Red - We Are The Halluci Nation    Secret Path For Chanie Wenjack - Gord Downie

Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie    We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp    I am Not A Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer 

While Toronto Public Library celebrates Canada's Indigenous heritage in June, coinciding with National Aboriginal History Month, we feature Indigenous artists, writers, activists, musicians and performers throughout the year. This fall, we will be hosting Indigenous Writers' Gathering events, including workshops and a gala; and First Nations chef and author Andrew George Jr. will pay a visit.  Check back for more program and event updates.