News / Toronto

Toronto to reflect Indigenous history in parks and public places

Part of the process involves naming parks after famous Indigenous people.

Indigenous artist Duane Linklater with part of his public art project near the Lower Don River Trail. The park could soon be renamed The Wonscotonach Parklands, as part of the city’s Indigenous placemaking efforts.

Nick Kozak / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Indigenous artist Duane Linklater with part of his public art project near the Lower Don River Trail. The park could soon be renamed The Wonscotonach Parklands, as part of the city’s Indigenous placemaking efforts.

Toronto is looking to incorporate Indigenous placemaking in parks and public places.

A proposal recently tabled before the city's Aboriginal Affairs Committee details current efforts to showcase Indigenous culture and history in Toronto's green spaces.

"Toronto's parks and public realm are our common grounds," said Jane Arbour, the city's senior communications co-ordinator, in an email. "For these spaces to truly bring us together, they need to reflect all of us and they need to reflect the city's commitment to reconciliation."

The proposal is based on consultations with Indigenous communities regarding how to better reflect their traditions. That includes designated spaces for sacred fires, Indigenous ceremonies and Indigenous art as well as ensuring access to rivers and water courses, Arbour said.

There are also plans to name new parks or rename existing ones in honour of outstanding Indigenous figures.

For example, a 1.6-acre public park proposed at a new development near Yonge and Wellesley will be named the Dr. Lillian McGregor Park. The name was chosen after a public survey last year. McGregor, who came from the Whitefish River First Nation, was the first Indigenous woman to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto. Her work as a nurse and community leader was vital in promoting Indigenous culture in the city.

Another proposal is to change the name of the Lower Don Parklands (also called the Don River Valley Park or the Superpark) to The Wonscotonach Parklands. Wonscotonach is an Anishinaabe name meaning "black burnt grounds" or "area previously swept by fire" and is what The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations people originally called the park in Toronto's east end. The park is now home to a number of sculptures by artist Duane Linklater.

"By bringing Indigenous culture and tradition into the design and stewardship of our parks and public spaces, we aim to ensure that our First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities can see themselves and their traditions reflected in the city around them," Arbour added.

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