News Release
September 30, 2019

Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York) was joined by lead artist Tannis Nielsen and young artists from the local Toronto Indigenous community, as well as other local community members, on Orange Shirt Day today to officially unveil new underpass murals along Lower Simcoe Street in downtown Toronto.

Nielsen, who is of Metis/Anishinaabe and Danish ancestry, began the project in 2017 and welcomed young artists from Toronto’s Indigenous community to help paint the final artwork. Other members of the local community also contributed to the final artwork.

The Water Wall mural, on the east side of the underpass, is inspired by the work of Josephine Mandamin, an Anishabaabewe grandmother who has walked almost 18,000 kilometres around each of the Great Lakes in order to bring attention to the physical plight of the planet’s greatest resource, water.

The west wall of the underpass, called the Elder/Honour Wall, consists of 28 portraits of Indigenous Peoples named by the local community while honouring the Indigenous Elders and leaders of the local Toronto community.

Orange Shirt Day is held annually to promote awareness about the Indian residential school system and the impact it had on Indigenous communities in Canada for more than a century.

The Lower Simcoe Street underpass was constructed in 2009. It connects Toronto’s financial district to the waterfront and is a key corridor linking visitors and residents with Union Station and a number of major attractions and notable landmarks


“The Elder-Teacher Honor wall N’ gekaajig Kidowog is created to recognize and honour the Indigenous Elders and leaders of the local Toronto community. The name and nation of each individual appears under each portrait along with a teaching they have given in relation to the land, creating an entranceway into traditional ecological knowledge and an awareness of the planet’s fragility. It is my intention that all who see this mural will gain a better understanding of where they are located geographically, be reminded that Toronto is located upon Indigenous territory, and deepen their consciousness politically, socially and environmentally.”
– Tannis Nielsen, Lead artist

“We are proud to unveil these two new powerful murals conceived by Artist Tannis Nielsen. These murals celebrate the voices, creativity and continued impacts of Indigenous Peoples and aim to represent local, historical Indigenous perspectives.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy

“City-building practices must include Indigenous perspectives if we are to have truly inclusive spaces. We value the opportunity to collaborate with Indigenous artists and community members to find impactful ways such as these to deepen knowledge and understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”
– Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 11 University-Rosedale)

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at, on Instagram at or on Facebook at

Eric Holmes
Strategic Communications
416-392-4391, 416-629-4891 (cell)