Indigenous History in Toronto

Study Anthropology in Canada’s Largest City

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, and like all big cities, there are people who slip through the cracks. Child poverty is high in Toronto, partially because of high rent prices. Take a day out as you study anthropology to volunteer to stuff lunch bags at a food bank to help feed children.

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Sojourn – Gain a better understanding of the community you’re visiting. Learn about different religions or spiritual practices. How do these impact the communities? How does religion or spirituality influence local traditions?

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Savor – Will you choose sweet or savory? Take the time to visit local markets and discover unique local ingredients. Learn how to prepare traditional meals & local favorites.

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Tip of the Tongue – Each morning, take the time to learn a few basic greetings and phrases in the local language. Learn how to write greetings & your name in the local script.

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A Wrinkle in Time – History influences our present. Discover the history of the country you visit. Hear the stories of your guides & their family history. Where do they come from?

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Journal Journeys – Take some time to reflect on the day’s events and document your journey. Spend a moment journaling about the day had & day ahead. These are memories for a lifetime!

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Culture – From local dances, festivals, or simple gestures to communicate – all of these make up a country’s culture. Learn and practice cultural norms & how to show respect in the culture you visit.

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When you arrive in this beautiful city, you’ll see all sorts of skyscrapers and a tall structure that towers over them all. (Hint: maybe you’ll learn more about that tower later!) As you head to your hotel, take in the atmosphere of the streets.

Today you’ll be going on a bike tour of the city! Bikes are a great way to see all the sights, because you can see more things than if you were to walk, and unlike a bus, you can stop and look at something more closely at any time. A tour guide will point out the sights and stop to explain their significance. You’ll get to see Chinatown, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Kensington Market. Once you’re done, eat some classic poutine. Only Canada makes it like that!

The Royal Ontario Museum is the largest museum in Canada, and it features over 6 million objects and specimens. There are 40 galleries, but we’ll be paying attention to one in particular. The Daphne Cockwell Gallery is dedicated to First Peoples art and culture. It addresses the complex relationship between tradition and modern life. Here, you will talk to a tour guide who will explain some history of the First Peoples in Canada, including the horrendous institution of residential schools, which existed until 1996, and the murders of Indigenous women that continue to this day.

When you’re done, head to NishDish, a restaurant serving entirely Indigenous cuisine. Enjoy a bowl of venison stew or a cup of sweetgrass tea. Make sure to visit the restaurant’s market before you leave. It houses Indigenous products and reading material.

Would a trip to Canada be complete without seeing Niagara Falls? After a short car ride, you’ll see the falls from a beautiful viewing area. But things won’t stop there. Once you’re ready, it’s time to take a helicopter tour of the falls. It’s a gorgeous view!

Start your day at David A. Balfour Park in Deer Park. It used to be a hunting ground for Indigenous people where deer would come to feed. First Nations people used to refer to it as mishkodae, which means prairie. You’ll go for a walk where your tour guide will point out plants that Indigenous people used to use for medicine or food.

Next, you’ll be volunteering with Helping Indigenous People. This organization honors Indigenous people by encouraging education about Indigenous issues, history, and culture. Assist a volunteer as you go to a school to talk about Indigenous history. You’ll read a book to the children about First Nations people, and then the volunteer will give a presentation and answer questions. 

It’s time to see the city from above! Head to CN Tower, where you’ll travel up 1,136 ft (or 346 m) in only 58 seconds. You’ll see the city through floor to ceiling panoramic windows, and there’s even a glass floor you can stand on — if you dare!

Now it’s time for Ripley’s Aquarium! The aquarium has 20,000 aquatic animals and North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel. You’ll be able to touch sharks and stingrays and see a dive show! You’ll also take some time to hear about the conservation efforts being made to keep our oceans clean and our aquatic life healthy.

It’s time to leave Toronto. After you board your plane, maybe read some of the material you picked up at NishDish. Many people don’t know anything about Indigenous cultures, so you can educate them about these issues long after you leave.

Travel to Canada and get ready to enjoy yourself and learn something new! On this trip to study anthropology, you’ll learn about Indigenous people in Canada, including their art, their food, and the struggles they face. Indigenous women in Canada are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous women, and as recently as 1996, First Nations children were taken away from their parents and put in residential schools that were often abusive. Indigenous people are struggling, and you can be a part of making sure everyone remembers their past and knows about their present reality.


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