Looking back at Toronto’s Indigenous history as city marks 186th birthday

Click to play video: 'An Indigenous history lesson on Toronto’s 186th birthday'
An Indigenous history lesson on Toronto’s 186th birthday
WATCH ABOVE: Friday marks Toronto's 186th birthday and leading up to the special occasion, Myseum, Toronto's museum without walls, conducted a poll. The findings show Torontonians want to know more about this land's Indigenous history. Global News meets with an Indigenous Elder who takes us back long before Toronto was born in 1834 – Mar 6, 2020

On Toronto’s 186th birthday, a new poll by Myseum of Toronto suggests residents want to know more about the city’s Indigenous history.

Toronto was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, but before European settlers arrived here, Canada’s largest city was home to Indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

According to the City of Toronto, this land is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

For decades, Indigenous Elder Duke Redbird has been involved in various First Nations educational initiatives.

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“Remember that the word Toronto comes from (the) Haudenosaunee word tkaronto and it means meeting place,” said Redbird.

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The educator and poet partnered with Myseum in the summer with his idea to create a moving houseboat called the Wigwam Chi-Chemung that would become an Indigenous Learning Centre on Toronto’s waterfront.

“And one of the reasons I wanted to have a presence on the waterfront here … and it was to give a presence that there were Indigenous people all through this waterfront,” said Redbird.

A new Ipsos poll, conducted for Myseum of Toronto, surveyed Toronto residents aged 18 and over, to explore how they feel about and experience the history of the city.

Poll highlights included:

● Over eight in 10 (83%) feel they should know more about the history of Toronto/their local community
● Three quarters (75%) feel they should know more about the Indigenous history of Toronto/their local community
● Only half (51%) of Torontonians feel that museums in general, and Toronto museums, do a good job of sharing the stories of marginalized or underrepresented communities
● Over six in 10 (61%) of Torontonians have watched a video or read an article about history in the last six months, and four in 10 (41%) have listened to a podcast

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Redbird and his educational boat house installation is the subject of a new documentary called, Wigwam Chi-Chemung: A Story of Reclamation, which will be released online in the coming weeks.

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