Today, Mayor John Tory unveiled the City of Toronto’s new Toronto Sign on Nathan Phillips Square and its first wrap, Patterns of the People, in recognition of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent.
Mayor Tory was joined by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, and Danilo Deluxo McCallum, the Toronto-based artist who designed the new wrap.
One of the design features of the Toronto Sign is a vinyl wrap on the outer edges of its letters. The wrap is refreshed approximately every 12 months. The design of the Toronto Sign wrap is used to promote events, projects and City priorities. Themes for past Toronto Sign wraps have included: Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Nuit Blanche Toronto artist installation by JR, Toronto Neighbourhoods, Canada 150, My City My Six Exhibition, and Indigenous Iconography.
The City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism (CABR) Unit issued a call for artists in October 2019 and Danilo Deluxo McCallum’s design, Patterns of the People, was selected by a community jury for the first wrap of the new Toronto Sign.
Danilo Deluxo McCallum is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist, graphic designer and curator whose practice is deeply rooted in the art movement known as Afrofuturism. His design for the wrap uses colourful African fabric patterns as a backdrop to represent the diverse community of people of African descent in Toronto. Woven into the colourful patterns are African cultural symbols such as the Adinkra Sankofa bird, which represents the importance of moving forward by recalling the past. Interspersed with these symbols are portraits of Canadians of African descent, asserting the beautiful, bold and proud presence of Black communities in Toronto.
Patterns of the People will remain on the Toronto Sign for ArtworxTO 2021: The City’s Year of Public Art.
The City recognizes the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 to 2024). The Decade was established to encourage the international community to recognize people of African descent as a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected. The goals of the Decade are recognition, justice and development.
The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, unanimously adopted by Toronto City Council, is being implemented by the City’s CABR Unit to ensure that systemic changes are made to eliminate anti-Black racism in Toronto. More information is available at toronto.ca/abr.
The original Toronto Sign was installed in July 2015 for the Toronto Pan American and Parapan American Games. While it was only built to last a few weeks, in response to the sign’s popularity, the City extended its presence on the Square indefinitely and it has become a Toronto landmark.
After more than five years, the original sign was showing significant wear and tear. The City decided to build a more durable sign rather than continue with costly, ongoing repairs.
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.
The new Toronto Sign is easier to clean, waterproof, and will have enhanced lighting and creative features to support public engagement. Both the Maple Leaf and Medicine Wheel have been retained. The City is using reserve funds to pay for the new sign and existing operational budgets to cover the ongoing cost of maintenance and vinyl wraps.
Photographs of the Toronto Sign can be shared with the hashtag #xoTO and #TOsign. More information about the sign and its first wrap is available at
“Over the past five years, the Toronto Sign has become an iconic landmark in our city, attracting residents from all over the city and visitors from all over the world. This new and more durable Toronto Sign will ensure that it continues to be part of our city’s landscape for years to come. I am pleased to see that as part of the unveiling of our new sign, the first wrap will recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent. This sends a powerful message to our residents and the world that Toronto is committed to ending anti-Black racism here and that we are prepared to make the systemic changes that are needed. I encourage all Toronto institutions to demonstrate their commitment as well.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The remarkable Patterns of the People wrap on the new Toronto sign represents our hope that past failures can be rectified as we move forward during the International Decade for People of African Descent with critical investments, systemic changes, and openness to the voices and experiences of Black communities.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“My Patterns of the People artwork for the new Toronto Sign explores African Fabric Patterns, symbols, such as the Adinkra bird and the Black fist, and portraiture to recognize and celebrate the richness of the Black community in Toronto and across Canada. I am proud that The City of Toronto, working with its Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit, proactively chose to recognize and feature the Black community and a Black artist’s work on the new Toronto Sign. As a diverse global city I feel it shows leadership and sends a powerful message to the international community around accountability, equity and representation. We are Toronto.”
– Danilo Deluxo McCallum, multidisciplinary artist, artist organizer and graphic designer
The City of Toronto, in association with Founding Sponsor American Express and in partnership with Destination Toronto, has launched ShowLoveTO to help Toronto recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative encourages residents to show love for Toronto by supporting local businesses and artists, and exploring their neighbourhoods through a series of City-led and partner programs and events. More information is available at toronto.ca/showloveTO.
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.