In the spirit of reconciliation and on-going collaboration, the City of Toronto’s Heritage Planning Unit (in the City Planning Division) and Museums and Heritage Services Unit (in the Economic Development and Culture Division), have launched the Indigenous Heritage Engagement Project (IHEP) to join with Indigenous communities in an authentic learning process about Indigenous heritage in Toronto.

The Indigenous Heritage Engagement Project is a community-directed endeavour; the project aims to create conditions that encourage the sharing of knowledge, stories, and ideas related to Indigenous heritage within the City of Toronto.

The aims of the Indigenous Heritage Engagement Project are to:

  • Facilitate critical conversations with Indigenous communities and organizations to help identify properties and areas within the City of Toronto that hold tangible and intangible heritage value for Indigenous communities;
  • Respectfully gather the stories of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people of Toronto, in an authentic voice;
  • Raise awareness amongst residents and visitors of the presence, culture, and contributions of Indigenous people in the City of Toronto; and
  • Create a shared resource that can inform Indigenous communities and City of Toronto programs alike, including the Toronto Heritage Survey and Toronto History Museums.

The Indigenous Heritage Engagement Project is being designed in collaboration with Indigenous communities to listen to any and all Indigenous people, groups or organizations that have insights into Indigenous heritage in Toronto.

The Project was initiated and is funded by the City of Toronto’s Heritage Planning Unit and Museums and Heritage Services. It’s first step, in 2019 and 2020, was to reach out to Indigenous community representatives and organizations to understand if the project might be welcomed by Indigenous communities, and if so, how it could be developed collaboratively with them. The recommendation to bring together both a Steering Circle and a Knowledge Keepers Circle arose out of Co-development Dialogues in 2019 and 2020.

Heritage Planning Unit (City Planning Division)

The Heritage Planning Unit works within the City Planning Division to identify properties across the City that may have cultural heritage value or interest, to evaluate those properties against Provincial Criteria to determine whether they merit inclusion on the City’s Heritage Register, and to manage change on properties on the Heritage Register to make sure their heritage values are conserved. The Heritage Planning Unit also manages the City’s interests in archaeology.

Museum and Heritage Services (Economic Development and Culture Division)

The Museum and Heritage Services operates 10 historic sites – including Toronto’s iconic Fort York National Historic Site – that collectively tell the story of Toronto. Staff also manage, maintain, and lead the development and adaptive reuse and restoration of 100 City-owned major cultural and heritage sites.

Steering Circle and Knowledge Keepers Circle

The Indigenous Heritage engagement Project will be guided by two Circles compromised of a diverse and representative group of Indigenous community members.

These Circles will hold critical conversations on behalf of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, and supporting organizations on how to best engage with and honour the heritage of Indigenous communities of Toronto.

We are pleased to be working in close collaboration with:

  • ENAGB Indigenous Youth Agency
  • Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation
  • Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto
  • Six Nations of the Grand River
  • Toronto-York Region Métis Council
  • Toronto Inuit Association
  • And others

Three Sisters Consulting

Three Sisters Consulting is a 100 per cent Indigenous owned facilitation, training, and business development company. Three Sisters Consulting incorporates Indigenous ways of knowing and Two-eyed Seeing into every aspect of our work. We utilize Circle facilitation to provide a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment for Indigenous community engagement.

Guided by the Co-development Dialogues of 2019 and 2020, the City of Toronto is establishing an Indigenous Heritage Engagement – Steering Circle of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis representatives who will provide strategic direction for the IHEP engagement process and offer input on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge Keepers Circle.

The purpose of the Steering Circle is to:

  • Guide the development, delivery, and documentation of the IHEP engagement plan;
  • Inform Indigenous community outreach;
  • Advise on engagement tools to reach the full diversity of Indigenous communities; and
  • Contribute to the on-going refinement of strategies, documents, and deliverables based on the experience of the engagement process.

The Indigenous Heritage Engagement – Knowledge Keepers Circle will be comprised of Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and representatives to provide Indigenous understandings and guidance on the appropriate use of Traditional Knowledge, Indigenous histories, and the stories and narratives gathered throughout the Indigenous Heritage Engagement project.

The purpose of the Knowledge Keepers Circle is to:

  • Offer cultural guidance on the recording, distribution, and use of knowledge received through community engagement meetings and other engagement tools;
  • Help to ensure the knowledge gathered throughout the engagement process is handled with care and in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner;
  • Advise on ways to best honour the stories and heritage of Indigenous peoples of Toronto; and
  • Establish good relations and ways of working together to inform on-going and future engagement.

Complete: Co-Development Dialogues
2019/2020 – Complete

Complete: IHEP Kick-Off
December 2023 – Complete

Complete: Formation of Indigenous Advisory Circles
March 2024 – Complete

Current: Pre-Briefing Sessions
April 2024 – Current

Incomplete: Finalized Engagement Strategy
May 2024 – Upcoming

Incomplete: Start of IHEP Engagement Sessions
June 2024 – Upcoming

Incomplete: Interim Report
August 2024 – Upcoming

Incomplete: End of IHEP Engagement Sessions
November 2024 – Upcoming

Incomplete: What We Learned Report
January 2025 – Upcoming

Incomplete: Ongoing Relationships and Learning
Beyond 2025 – Upcoming

Through the Indigenous Heritage Engagement Project (IHEP), the City of Toronto will join with Indigenous communities in an authentic learning process about Indigenous heritage in Toronto, whatever Indigenous communities may consider that to be. Heritage Planning and Museums and Heritage Services staff wish to sit with Indigenous communities to listen, and to understand.  At the end of the engagement period, the IHEP will share the record of that listening and understanding, as determined to be appropriate by Indigenous communities, so it may benefit as many people as possible.

The City of Toronto also intends to act on the knowledge and understanding gained through the IHEP.  The following case studies represent some ways in which Indigenous communities and their heritage have already been embedded in the landscape of the City of Toronto.  Through the IHEP, we hope this work will be expanded.


The City of Toronto’s newly inaugurated Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ Community Centre and Library brings the spirit of community collaboration and Indigenous representation full circle.

With guidance from the Huron-Wendat Nation, the multi-use Centre was constructed near a once significant village site (1280 CE to 1320 CE) and named with the Wendat word Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ (pronounced Etta-nonna wasti-nuh) meaning, “where they had a good, beautiful life”.

Formerly known as Woodsy Park (80 McMahon Lane), the/this Indigenous place-naming speaks to the intent of the Centre; to bring citizens together in a space of learning and wellbeing, to acknowledge the original inhabitants of the land, to uplift/amplify Indigenous language and, to promote peace and reconciliation between all peoples.


The City of Toronto is a canvas, an urban backdrop for expressions of identity, cultural preservation, and community empowerment.

In collaboration with Mural Routes, the City of Toronto’s Local Arts Service Organizations (LASOs) have united with Youth groups, Senior’s Centres, and Indigenous artists to ensure community-guided art can be viewed in everyday spaces.

Public art installations beautify urban environments, tell important stories, and offer markers for connection/belonging to place. Artists Philip Cote and Nick Sweetman’s mural “Lake and Shore” can be found at the underpass on Thirtieth Street and Akron Road. The colourful artwork shows the 4 sacred plants – Cedar, Sweetgrass, Tobacco and Sage – that connect all living things.

Cote’s works emphasize the value of Indigenous Teachings in developing a sense of responsibility to the land. His murals can also be found at Fort York National Historic Site and Mississauga’s of the New Credit First Nation.

Plaques & Markers

Long-distance runner, Tom Longboat (Onondaga: Gagwe:gih), is the most famous Indigenous athlete of the early 20th century. Longboat was the first Indigenous person to win the Boston Marathon (1907) and represented Canada in the 1908 Olympic Games. Longboat was inducted into both the Canadian and Ontario Sports Halls of Fame, a plaque honoring the sportsman from Six Nations of the Grand River can be found on the Queen Street YMCA building where he once trained, at Queen Street and Dovercourt Road.  The track that he trained on still exists inside what is now known as Longboat Hall.


Heritage Toronto offers an Indigenous Roots: A Living History walking tour that links notable Indigenous Torontonians with the everyday places they once lived and worked; the tour begins at the Don River and includes a stroll down Dr. O’ Lane – the former home of Dr. Oronhyatekha, one of Canada’s first Indigenous doctors, past Ojibway author Verna Johnston’s boarding house, finishing off at Le Coq D’Or Tavern on Yonge Street to celebrate revered Six Nations musician Robbie Robertson.

Explore the map virtually or take a self-guided tour along the route to learn how Indigenous people helped to shape modern-day Toronto. 

Heritage Conservation Sites – Baby Point Heritage Conservation District

The Baby Point neighbourhood is best known as the location of a 17th century Haudenosaunee village named Teiaiagon. Through in-depth engagement with Six Nations of the Grand River, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and the Huron-Wendat Nation (Nation Huronne-Wendat), Heritage Planning has gained an understanding of the significance of this place as a site used by Indigenous peoples for millennia.

The understanding of enduring connection to this place will continue to expand through conversations with urban Indigenous communities. The development of a Heritage Conservation District through the Ontario Heritage Act will result in policies and guidelines that will manage future change to protect and respect this site and its significant features.

Check here for updates on upcoming engagement activities and events.

Toronto Heritage Survey

Following a feasibility study, Toronto City Council approved the initiation of the Toronto Heritage Survey – a systematic, city-wide survey to engage communities in proactively identifying properties with potential heritage value.

The baseline information provided by the survey will:

  • Guide long-range planning decisions;
  • Support transparent development review; and
  • Further a number of policy goals beyond land-use planning, including ensuring that the Toronto Heritage Register reflects the values, histories and experiences of all citizens.

In consultation with the Indigenous Affairs Office (IAO) and Museums and Heritage Services (MHS), City of Toronto’s Heritage Planning unit affirmed that the Toronto Heritage Survey project needed to include a distinct engagement program for Indigenous communities to understand what they may value as heritage in Toronto.