The next time you walk by the iconic Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square — you may see some changes that’ll make you look twice.
The City has added a giant Medicine Wheel to the front of the “T” of the sign and has also covered the letters with vinyl wrap that has symbols that are significant to Indigenous communities. All of it to honour National Indigenous Peoples Day on Thursday.
“Toronto’s Indigenous roots and the vibrancy and diversity of its Indigenous communities are reflected in the Toronto sign,” said Councillor Michael Thompson. “In this way, we are proud to mark Indigenous presence, historical and contemporary, in Toronto.”
The Medicine Wheel has varying meanings for different Indigenous groups, from South to North America. But the City says this representation of the wheel celebrates Indigenous cultural values, tradition and spirituality.
“The four directions symbolize completeness, wholeness, connected and strength,” said City of Toronto spokesperson, Wynna Brown.
Meanwhile, the vinyl wrapping around the Toronto sign letters resembles birchbark and consists of traditional Indigenous symbols, like feathers, fire, inukshuk, lacrosse sticks, medicine wheel/unity pin, Métis sash, Ojibway canoe, sweet grass braid, turtle, dreamcatcher and a wampum belt.
Brown adds there wasn’t a single artist that is responsible for the design, but a collection of people came together from Toronto Council Fire Cultural Centre to put the piece together.
“The Medicine Wheel is a great addition to the Toronto sign and positive action for National Indigenous Day,” said Andrea Chrisjohn, from Toronto Council Fire Cultural Centre. “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.”
The wheel will be part of the sign through the Canada Day long weekend and then will be reinstalled in early October for the Indian Residential School Survivors Legacy Celebration. Meanwhile, the wrapping around the Toronto sign will remain on the sign until fall.