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Metro Cities: How cities are restoring Indigenous traditions

From rooftop sweat lodges to app-based history lessons, Indigenous traditions are being revived in cities as the connection to the land is rekindled.

The sweat lodge on the roof of Toronto's Native Child and Family Services building.

Torstar News Service Order this photo

The sweat lodge on the roof of Toronto's Native Child and Family Services building.

Indigenous traditions are increasingly on the map in cities, part of a national move towards truth and reconciliation gaining urgency ahead of Canada 150 and National Aboriginal Day on Wednesday. Municipalities, universities and individuals are rekindling a connection to the land with sweat lodges, storytelling and cultural festivals. 

Here are some ways traditional Indigenous teachings are revived in the concrete jungle:

Native Child and Family Services built an Indigenous garden on the roof of its office building at 30 College St. in Toronto. The garden includes a sweat lodge, traditional plants and a healing circle. 

Catherine Martin, Mi’kmaw woman and Nancy’s Chair in Women's Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University at the opening ceremony for the school's traditional wigwam.

Haley Ryan / Metro

Catherine Martin, Mi’kmaw woman and Nancy’s Chair in Women's Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University at the opening ceremony for the school's traditional wigwam.

A traditional Mi’kmaq wigwam was unveiled on the Mount Saint Vincent University campus in Halifax earlier this month, intended to be a site for ceremonies, smudging and other events. 

Adrian Duke, from Muscowpetung First Nation in Saskatchewan, created an app similar to Pokemon Go that encourages users to walk around his adopted town of Vancouver and discover the Indigenous culture and traditional knowledge at various sites.

An Indigenous art park named in part (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞, is a nod to a Cree word for “I am the Earth.” Slated to open in 2018, the Edmonton park will display artwork by Indigenous artists that tell the story of the land.

The Kanata Festival from June 19 to July 1 in Vancouver takes place on the traditional unceded territory of the Coast Salish people and features food, art, workshops and performances related to Indigenous culture. 

Edmonton's Flying Eagle Green Shack program visits playgrounds and schools to teach about the first peoples of Treaty 6 territory with storytelling, bead crafts, bannock making, smudging and talking circles.

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