The City’s first Reconciliation Action Plan will guide the City’s actions towards truth, justice and reconciliation from 2022 to 2032.
The City of Toronto’s first Reconciliation Action Plan will guide its actions to advance truth, justice and reconciliation for the next 10 years, from 2022 to 2032. It builds on the City’s existing commitments to Indigenous Peoples and takes them even further through 28 meaningful actions across five themes:
These actions will contribute to the visibility and overall wellbeing of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Toronto through placemaking and placekeeping, supporting economic development and prosperity, increasing civic engagement, honouring Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and recognizing rights to self-determination and self-governance.
The Reconciliation Action Plan was developed over three years with input from First Nations, Inuit and Métis community members, organizations, Elders, Knowledge Carriers, youth, and Indigenous employees and allies in the Toronto Public Service.
The City will continue to collaborate with Indigenous leaders and community members to fulfill the actions within the plan, ensure transparency and accountability, and restore right relations. It is a living document, which will evolve, as needed, to incorporate directives from any future public inquiries or calls for government action from local Indigenous communities and organizations.
On August 19, 2022, Mayor John Tory offered an apology to the Métis people on behalf of the City of Toronto for its role in contributing to the militarized action against Métis people during the Northwest Resistance of 1885, in what is now Saskatchewan. Read the apology:
The City of Toronto is committed to advancing truth, justice and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. Canada has learned from the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, as well as other inquiries that reconciliation cannot be achieved without first addressing the hard truths of our past.
One of the guiding principles of the TRC is that “healing relationships requires public truth sharing, apology, and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms.” One such truth that has been largely overlooked for more than 100 years is the City of Toronto’s role in the Northwest Resistance of 1885, in what is now the province of Saskatchewan.
To begin, let me provide a historical snapshot of Toronto in the late 1800s as it was a far different city than it is today. Toronto had a population of around 100,000 people. Ninety-three per cent of its residents were British and 85 per cent were Protestant. Meanwhile, thousands of kilometres away, the Métis, led by Louis Riel, were fighting for rights to their land following an influx of white settlers and a decline in bison that threatened their way of life and their very survival. The media coverage of the time regularly described the Métis as “wild”, “miserable” and “impulsive halfbreeds” and labelled the resistance a “rebellion.” On March 30, 1885, local newspaper the Toronto World, exclaimed, “War, war, war was the cry, and war it will be till Mr. Riel and his followers bite the dust.” Not long after, the Queen’s Own Rifles and Royal Grenadiers, who were based in Toronto, sent hundreds of volunteer militia to join Canada’s efforts to suppress the Northwest Resistance.
Today, I apologize for the role the City of Toronto played in contributing to militarized action against Métis people. The City of Toronto financially contributed to the Northwest Resistance by providing supplies to the militia troops. When they returned claiming victory, the City of Toronto organized and funded a grand parade to celebrate. At the event, the mayor, surrounded by City Council, made a speech honouring the troops. On July 24, 1885, the Toronto World reported about the event: “Over one hundred thousand people yesterday joined in the warmest welcome that was ever given in this fair dominion to citizen soldiers who had served their country in suppressing armed rebellion. The oldest and youngest inhabitants agreed for once that it was the greatest day Toronto ever witnessed.” The mayor hosted the first Monument Committee meeting at City Hall to begin working on a statue to commemorate the soldiers. That committee disbanded and, when another group took up the cause years later, the City of Toronto financially contributed to the monument that is still standing in Toronto today. All of these actions by the City of Toronto – funding, celebrating and commemorating the quashing of the Northwest Resistance – contributed to the overall milieu of hostility towards the Métis. For this, on behalf of Toronto City Council, I wholeheartedly apologize.
The defeat of the Northwest Resistance and the hanging of Louis Riel on November 16, 1885 were the backdrop for a peak of hostility, racism, and colonial violence towards the Métis. In Toronto and across the country, Métis were forced to hide their identities for fear of reprisal. As a result, the Métis became “the forgotten people.” I have heard when listening to community in Toronto that this legacy of oppression continues to have long-term ramifications on the culture, health and well-being of Métis people that will require hard work and redress going forward.
An apology is nothing without action. This year, the City of Toronto adopted its first Reconciliation Action Plan. It includes many strategies to enhance relationships with the Indigenous community in Toronto. As part of the plan, the City commits to working together with the Toronto and York Region Métis Council to develop educational programs and commemorative initiatives that further explain the history behind this apology and educate all residents of and visitors to Toronto.
We value the contributions that the Council makes, in partnership with many other Indigenous organizations, to support the urban Indigenous community and in challenging the City to better respond to the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Toronto. I hope that apologizing for the role that the City of Toronto and Toronto City Council played in the Northwest Resistance will help the Métis heal from the injustices of the past, honour the sacrifices of their ancestors, and contribute to the pride of Métis culture and identity for future generations.
Mayor of Toronto
Watch the apology:
The National Anthem played at the beginning of Toronto City Council is performed in three languages – English, French and Ojibwe. The anthem is performed by Niibishens Trudeau of the Wikwemikong Unceded Territory and Brunswick House First Nation.
This initiative is in response to the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan, which calls for support of the revitalization of Indigenous languages, as well to honour the International Decade for Indigenous Languages. The City engaged with Treaty Partners and Indigenous groups in Toronto who were supportive of including an Indigenous language in the National Anthem video played in Council.
Between 2014 and 2018, City councillors were asked to identify locations in their wards for the Spaces and Places project. Various locations from across the City’s community council areas, including Etobicoke York, North York, Scarborough, and Toronto and East York are featured in the video.
O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command,
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits,
O Canada, ki-tchi gwa-natch
The English and French words are established by Act of Parliament.
Indigenous versions of the anthem are not a direct translation and are determined by the artist. The official French words are not a direct translation of the English version and vice versa. The direct translation of this multi-lingual version of the anthem is as follows:
O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command,
For your arm knows how to wield the sword,
It knows how to carry the cross.
Your history is an epic
Of brilliant deeds.
O Canada, to strongly protect
We stand and give thanks
We stand to give thanks.
Toronto – East York
This silver teapot was gifted by Elder Garry Sault and Knowledge Keeper Tena Sault of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation during the welcoming ceremony at the first meeting of the 2022-2026 Toronto City Council, held on November 23, 2022. The teapot was used to carry water blessed by Tena Sault who is a water carrier.
Council was presented with a teaching by Elder Sault, who explained that the vessel represents “the black and tarnished words given to the Indigenous community.” Council was instructed to keep the teapot and shine it to “take the blackness off so that our words in the future shine in a beautiful way.”
The teapot was polished and placed in a permanent display case within the Council Chambers by Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie at the City Council meeting on March 29, 2023, in the presence of Elder Sault. It serves as a constant reminder to fulfil the City’s promises made to improve the lives of Indigenous Peoples living in Tkaronto (what many now refer to as Toronto), as well as the ongoing work to restore relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
As outlined in Action 15 of the Reconciliation Action Plan, the City continues to support Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre establish the Spirit Garden in Nathan Phillips Square, which honours residential and day school survivors. It is expected to open in 2024.
In May 2023, the City opened Dr. Lillian McGregor Park, named after a celebrated and respected member of the Indigenous community in Toronto.
Questions? Contact the Indigenous Affairs Office at Indigenous@toronto.ca.