Toronto to celebrate Indigenous legacies of resiliency and vitality

Friday, September 28th, 2018 12:17pm


Image Caption

Toronto photo courtesty of


The Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Legacy Celebration will be held in Toronto from Oct. 9 through Oct. 11.

The Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Legacy Celebration, the first of its kind in Canada, will be held in Toronto from Oct. 9 through Oct. 11 for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to honour residential school survivors and their families.

Produced by the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre in collaboration with the City of Toronto, this will be a free three-day gathering featuring Indigenous songs, stories, language, food, performances, installations and demonstrations for all ages.

“We are pleased and proud to be able to host and help produce this important event at Nathan Phillips Square,” said the Mayor of Toronto John Tory. “It is essential that reconciliation moves from discussion into action and this celebration provides a forum for that evolution to occur.”

The celebration will highlight

  • Two evening performances (Oct. 9 and 11) by Juno Award-winning Mohawk Six Nation singer-songwriter/piano player Murray Porter. His song “Is Sorry Enough?” which was co-written with his partner Elaine Bomberry.
  • An Oct. 9 evening of hand drums and healing songs by Indigenous women to honor survivors and inter-generational members through a reaffirmation of identity ceremony.
  • An Oct. 10 evening screening of the award-winning film “Indian Horse,” which was adapted from Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel. More information at
  • More than 20 large painted tipis across the Square will host drop-in workshops, information sharing and interactive experiences (such as Wampum belt teachings). In addition, there will be a tent dedicated for residential school survivors to use as a meeting space.
  • Traditional performances and cultural teachings will also take place on the main stage and visitors can purchase Indigenous food, arts and crafts in the Indigenous Marketplace.

All are welcome to attend the public and free events. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore, learn and participate in countless Indigenous activities. To help preserve the individual’s experience, a passport will be provided to document what they have learned.  For more information and programming visit

This public space initiative will consist of a turtle sculpture called the “Restoration of Identity sculpture” and a “Teaching, Learning and Sharing and Healing space”. The project, to be permanently featured on Nathan Phillips Square, is anticipated to be completed in 2020.

The 6 foot (two metre) tall turtle sculpture represents many First Nation creation stories as it embodies Turtle Island, also referred to as Mother Earth. The turtle stands on a 3 foot (1 mentre) tall boulder, which will list the 17 residential schools that once operated in Ontario. Further project plans and a turtle sculpture replica will be unveiled on Oct. 9 during the IRSS Legacy Celebration.