The City of Toronto has opened three designated sites for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples to hold Sacred Fires
. These new sites are located at Allan Gardens, Christie Pits Park and Norwood Park; with more to open in the future.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous Peoples have used Sacred Fires for wellness, healing and gatherings. Fire is a sacred gift from the Creator, as well as a doorway of communication with the Spirit world, ancestors and creation. Through designated sites, the City aims to create safer access to land for ceremonies while minimizing interruptions, as well as continue to build relationships to meet the needs of Indigenous communities.
The creation of designated Sacred Fire sites in City of Toronto parks supports Action 15 of the City's Reconciliation Action Plan
, which addresses the need to reduce barriers for Indigenous People accessing Sacred Fires. These designated sites are also supported by articles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report.
These designated sites were selected following engagement and collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Toronto, who identified a need for Sacred Fire sites in these areas.
How are these sites operated and maintained?
Booking a designated Sacred Fire site is free and the sites are available for use by Indigenous community members. The booking system is managed by the Indigenous Affairs Office (IAO), in order to support Indigenous community members with using and sharing these spaces. Each booking includes basic materials to build a Sacred Fire including firewood, a fire bowl, an ash bin and chairs. Site users must provide their own lighter, medicines, kindling and Fire Keeper.
The preselected designated Sacred Fires sites will be inspected by Toronto Fire Services (TFS) once a year to ensure the safety of the sites, as required by the Ontario Fire Code. The booking system also creates awareness for City staff that Sacred Fires are happening and helps minimize interruptions.
For undesignated fire sites, the IAO will support community members with completing a Ceremonial Fire form, which allows TFS to do a safety check before the fire.