In September 2020, a new 3D TORONTO Sign was installed at Nathan Phillips Square.
A more durable replica of the original (installed in July 2015 for the Toronto 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games) the Sign is illuminated, stands 10-feet tall and features a designed vinyl wrap on the outer edges of the of its letters.
The current vinyl wrap is an artwork titled Rekindle, designed by Toronto-based artist Joseph Sagaj in recognition of UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022 to 2032).
December 1 – World AIDS Day (red)
December 2 – Women’s Brain Health Day (purple)
December 3 – International Day for People with Disabilities (blue)
December 6 – National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (dimmed)
December 10 – Human Rights Day (blue)
Artwork by: Joseph Segaj in collaboration with Holly Fischer
The artwork design on the TORONTO Sign puts emphasis on highlighting Indigenous culture and showing on-going relationships of moving forward in positive light is of vital importance.
The City of Toronto recognizes UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022 to 2032).
Joseph is Anishnaabe (Ojibwe) of the Sturgeon Clan, from the remote community of Neskantaga, approximately 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He graduated in Fine Arts at the Ontario College of Art & Design in 1985.
Throughout Joseph’s 30-year career, Joseph feels honored in sharing his Anishnaabe ancestry and heritage into his expression of various forms of art. He has featured Indigenous knowledge, culture and teachings at the forefront with great pride that is reflected in his art.
Joseph continues to live and work in Toronto. Learn more about Joseph.
The 3D Medicine Wheel, a new addition to the TORONTO Sign, was installed on June 18, 2018 in honour of Indigenous Peoples and timed to elevate awareness of National Indigenous Peoples Day (formally National Aboriginal Day) on June 21.
This Medicine Wheel symbol was chosen, in consultation with the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, as it is an emblem of North American Indigenous cultural values, tradition and spirituality. Its four directions (East, South, West and North) symbolize completeness, wholeness, connectedness and strength.
A 3D leaf structure was temporarily added to the TORONTO Sign in 2017 to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.
The original TORONTO Sign was installed on Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall in July 2015 for the Toronto Pan American and Parapan American Games. Although it was only intended to last a few weeks, in response to the sign’s popularity, the City of Toronto extended its presence on the Square and it became a Toronto landmark.
The Medicine Wheel was added on June 18, 2018 in honour of Indigenous Peoples and to increase awareness of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.
The Medicine Wheel symbol was chosen, in consultation with Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, as it is an emblem of North American Indigenous cultural values, tradition and spirituality. Its four directions (East, South, West and North) symbolize completeness, wholeness, connectedness and strength.
A maple leaf was added to the TORONTO Sign in 2017 to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.
The TORONTO Sign has become symbolic of Toronto. According to a Destination Toronto visitor survey, the TORONTO sign was one of the top three most visited attractions in the city and it is consistently ranked as one of the most Instagram-worthy spots.
In September 2020, a more durable replica of the original TORONTO Sign was installed.
The vinyl wrap on the Sign resembles birch bark inlaid with symbols of significance for Indigenous communities that include: feathers, fire, inukshuk, lacrosse sticks, medicine wheel/unity pin, Métis sash, Ojibway canoe, sweet grass braid, turtle, dreamcatcher and a wampum belt. These symbols will remain on the TORONTO Sign until fall 2018 and the public can also utilize them as part of the TORONTOMOJI sticker pack for Iphone and Android available insert links.
Two row wampum belt: The lines represent respect for the ways in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous people travel on the river of life: Indigenous in a canoe and non-Indigenous in a ship. It honours the principles of non-interference, peace, friendship and respect. The belt ends are unfinished to signify a treaty without end. (TPH Toronto’s First Indigenous Health Strategy)
Turtle: The turtle symbolizes health and longevity, and plays an important role in the creation story of Turtle Island, also referred to as North America or the World.
Link: CBC – Turtle Island – wheres that?
Sweetgrass Braid: Sweetgrass is a gift from Mother Earth and said to be a part of her hair. The plant promotes strength and kindness. When braiding sweet grass each strand of the braid represents mind, body and spirit.
Link: Ojibwe Resources – Ojibwe Medicines
Ojibway Canoe: The birch bark canoe was the principal means of water transportation for Indigenous Peoples of the Eastern Woodlands, and later voyageurs, who used it extensively in the fur trade in Canada.
Link: The Canadian Encyclopedia – Birchbark Canoe
Métis Sash: One of the most prominent symbols of the Métis Nation is the brightly coloured, woven sash. Not only functional, the sash is colourful and identifiable as Métis apparel. The sash itself served as a key holder, first aid kit, washcloth, towel, emergency bridle and saddle blanket and its fringed ends could become a sewing kit. The sash has acquired new significance in the 20th century, now symbolizing pride and identification for Métis people.
The Medicine Wheel: Based on Indigenous cultural values, tradition and spirituality. Its four directions (East, South, West and North) symbolize completeness, wholeness, connectedness and strength. (TPH Toronto’s First Indigenous Health Strategy)
Lacrosse Sticks: Over 500 years ago Indigenous Peoples played lacrosse as a way to thank the Great Spirit. It could also be played to strengthen diplomatic alliances, support social conformity and economic equality.
Link: The Canadian Encyclopedia – Lacrosse
Inukshuk: An Inuit stone structure often found in the arctic landscape, the Inukshuk serves as a guide to travellers on land and sea, providing comfort, advice and spatial orientation.
Link: Toronto Inukshuk Park
Fire: The gift of Fire is believed to be the giver of new life and is often associated with fertility. Fire is the element that requires the utmost care and attention since it can bring new life and take life away.
Link: Assembly of First Nations – Honouring Fire
Feathers: The feather of an eagle conveys strength. The middle vane in the feather symbolizes the path that everyone walks in their life time, and every barb that comes of the middle vane symbolizes the choices we all have in life, and that every choice we make is attached to the middle or main path that we take.
Link: Silver FX – Native Symbols
Dreamcatcher: If an individual was in emotional or physical pain they could choose to go on a healing journey. This involved the making of a dream catcher. With the support of the community and healer, the individual learned how to deal with their pain as they completed their dream catcher.
Link: the Nation – The story of the dream catcher
The TORONTO Sign Celebratory and Commemorative Lighting Program offers an opportunity to:
The Canada 150 3D Leaf will not be included in the TORONTO Sign Commemorative Lighting Program. During Commemorative Lightings, the maple leaf will appear in either a neutral white, or red shade.
Please note that in the event of an extenuating circumstance, approved lighting requests may be subject to revision or delay by the City.
All TORONTO Sign lighting requests must adhere to the overarching criteria and fall within the established categories. Prior to submitting your request, review the criteria below.
All lighting requests must be:
Submissions must include:
A formal request on the organization’s official letterhead, including the following details:
Third party requests made on behalf of others:
The City cannot accept requests made by third parties on behalf of other organizations or individuals. All requests must be made by the organization itself to ensure that:
All requests will be reviewed by City of Toronto staff to ensure that they clearly adhere to the lighting criteria.
City of Toronto staff have full and final authority to implement the TORONTO Sign Celebratory and Commemorative Lighting Program criteria. By submitting a lighting request for the TORONTO Sign, the applicant agrees that the decisions of City staff are final.
All 3D TORONTO Sign lighting requests must adhere to the following Overarching Criteria:
All applications must comply with the above noted criteria, as determined by the Chief of Protocol, in order to be considered.
*Special Events Office Event Category Definitions Categories A & B
The Sign will be lit annually for Toronto’s professional sports teams on the following occasions:
The Sign can be lit upon request for international amateur sports competitions that are hosted in Toronto and/or include participation of Toronto and Canadian athletes on the following occasions:
The Sign can be lit upon request for local amateur sports teams that are representing or have brought honour to Toronto during national/international competitions on the following occasions: