204. Toronto’s First Nations


Big Drum Social at Native Canadian Centre. Image©Ruth Lor Malloy 2011.

Canada’s Aboriginal people have been in the news recently. We hear of horrible living conditions in Ontario’s far north.

But what about First Nations people in Toronto?

Have you ever met one? Do you want to? Do you know any by name?

One of the easiest places to meet your First Nations neighbours is this Saturday, Dec. 3. There’s a Christmas Craft Sale and Flea Market at the Native Canadian Centre. 10am-4pm. We were there last year and there were booths selling jewellery, dream catchers, sweet grass, cosmetics, and paintings. This year they’ll also be selling Indian tacos and raffling off a few items.

Big Drum Social. Image©Ruth Lor Malloy 2011

You can ask a few questions but the vendors will be busy selling. If you want to meet them later, they can give you a telephone number. There could be a lot of other First Nations people around.

The sale is at 16 Spadina Road, less than a block north of the Spadina subway station. Going there gives you a chance to see their heritage building which is also used on Monday evenings for anyone wanting to learn drumming with a hand drum. Drumming is a sacred experience, a connection with the heart beat of Mother Earth. On Mondays, Michele Perpaul usually teaches the protocol and some of the prayers. It’s from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.

On Thursday evenings, there’s the Evening Community Social with the sacred Big Drum and native dancing from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. Anyone can join but since it’s a potluck, bring some food to share. This is an ideal time to see some dancing. You can also get up and join in. You can ask questions about the dances, the drumming, the chanting, and anything else. The atmosphere is very informal and the people range from University of Toronto professors to housewives.

I have asked them questions about their experience in residential schools? The new Indian Act? What about outstanding land claims? What about the poverty?

Do they appreciate outsiders coming to their events? I think if you respect their culture, they appreciate your interest and friendship.

These weekly events are not available on public holidays. The Native Canadian Centre telephone is 416-964-9087. Its web-site is at http://www.ncct.on.ca/ .

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