Indigenous Peoples Day in Toronto began with Sunrise Ceremony this morning

Toronto’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day began early this morning with a sunrise ceremony on Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto City Hall. 

“Toronto joins cities across the country in celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day,” said Mayor John Tory. “On June 21, we recognize and honour the important history, culture and outstanding contributions made by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to our city and to Canadian society.”

More than 200 people, including Indigenous leaders and community members, Mayor Tory and councillors, City of Toronto staff and members of the general public, attended the 5:30 a.m. ceremony on Nathan Phillips Square. Garry Sault and his Oshkaabewis (helpers) led the ceremony, which included a sacred fire, smudging and singing with a hand drum. Mayor Tory read the proclamation for Indigenous Peoples Day in Toronto and presented it to Kenn Richard, Executive Director of Native Family and Child Services.

A reception following the ceremony included remarks from representatives of Mississaugas of the New Credit, Métis and Toronto’s urban Indigenous community. 

In honour of Indigenous Peoples Day, a medicine wheel – an emblem of North American Indigenous cultural values, tradition and spirituality – and a new vinyl wrap were added to the Toronto sign on the square. The vinyl wrap resembles birch bark inlaid with symbols of significance for Indigenous communities. 

The latest phase of the City’s Toronto for All public education campaign coincides with Indigenous Peoples Day and aims to raise awareness about Toronto’s Indigenous heritage and vibrant communities. The campaign features a land acknowledgment statement to help to honour First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. More information is available at

The celebrations continue at Fort York National Historic Site with the four-day Indigenous Arts Festival, which is on now through June 24. The festival features performances by Indigenous artists, traditional and contemporary music, dance, visual arts, crafts and food. More information is available at

In 2009, June was declared National Aboriginal History Month following the passing of a unanimous motion in the House of Commons. Every year, during the month of June and on June 21 recognizing the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year, many Indigenous people and communities celebrate their culture and heritage. More information is available at

This news release is also available on the City’s website:

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