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Indigenous People's Solidarity Group

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Smudging at the March 2022 Equinox ceremony at St. Matthew's Indigenous Healing Garden. (Harold Durnford)

The Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group (IPSG) was founded in 2018, as congregants and community members acted on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We aspire to live in accordance with St. Matt’s Territorial Acknowledgement, now posted streetside, which recognizes 15,000 years of Indigenous history in this place as well as our commitment as settlers to the Land and its first stewards.

The IPSG hosts regular ceremonies and events—including book studies, Indigenous Song Circles, liturgies, and other activities—as well as oversees Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan/Healing Garden.

 

Anyone can join the gardening, reconciliation and spiritual events being held in the garden.  Sign up for the St. Matt’s e-newsletter for regular invitations and reflections from the IPSG, and/or contact Outreach Coordinator Betsy Anderson to join. Keep up with our activities on Facebook.

Upcoming activities:

  • January 10, 7 p.m.: Meeting to finalize details of upcoming events and talk about the garden.

  • January 23, 7 p.m.: Discussion: Indigenous Toronto: Stories That Carry This Place: Winner of the 2022 Heritage Toronto Book Award, this collection pulls together diverse voices from Toronto’s Indigenous, Metis, and Inuit populations, creating what the Yellowhead Institute’s Hayden King calls “a new history of ‘old’ Toronto. Highly recommended for the readers on your gift list: https://chbooks.com/Books/I/Indigenous-Toronto3 Discussion will take place either at St. Matt’s or, if necessary, online.

  • March 14, 7 p.m.: Discussion: Kent Monkman’s Miss Chief & Other Tricksters: Spend some time at Kent Monkman’s Being Legendary at the Royal Ontario Museum this winter, getting to know the stories of Miss Chief and Turtle Island (For tickets, see: https://www.rom.on.ca/en/exhibitions-galleries/exhibitions/kent-monkman-being-legendary). Encounter more Tricksters in Tomson Highway’s 2022 Massey Lectures, Eden Robinson’s Trickster Trilogy, Karen McBride’s Crow Winter, or other works of art or literature. Discussion will take place either at St. Matt’s or, if necessary, online.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 

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Heartbeat of the Earth (Photo by Marcelle St-Amant)

Praise and gratitude to our Grandfather Sun for the stunning fall day for Friday’s Every Child Matters Commemorative Ceremony in Tollkeeper’s Park on September 30th. Well over 100 people joined members of the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group and Community History Project to honour Indian Residential School victims and survivors; Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, 2-Spirit, and Trans People and their families and communites; and all those impacted by “child welfare” policies that continue to break up families and communities.

 
People waited patiently as Elder Catherine Brooks sorted out a new order of Ceremony as both former Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Carolyn King, and the 416 Singers, Drum, and Dancers were delayed by other events. In the end, all went well, with a dedication of the Park as the 3rd National Healing Forests greenspace in Toronto by volunteer “Tollkeepers;” an acknowledgement of their founder, Jane Beecroft, who passed a year ago; and an introduction to members of her family.
 
Elder Catherine opened the Ceremony that followed the introductory remarks by saluting the Four Directions, and recognizing that people from the Four Directions were present in the Circle. She shared both the painful history of children being taken from their families in past generations and the current statistics that show far too many Indigenous children in foster homes, and equally estranged from their culture and traditions.
 
Participants were gifted Tobacco or Sage to hold close to their hearts in prayer, both during Elder Catherine’s reflection and during the Drumming and Dancing that followed. Lead 416 Singer, Isaiah Cada, spoke of the Drum as the heartbeat of the Earth, while his cousin, a Grass Dancer, led a traditional entry for the Dancers. Nichole Leveck and she and Isaiah’s gender fluid child, Indiana, offered Jingle Dances for healing; Nazarene Pope danced Fancy Shawl, a dance rooted in the Intertribal Pow Wows of the last century that created new traditions while keeping old traditions alive.
 
As the Ceremony drew to a close, we followed Nichole and Indiana as they released Tobacco to the Earth and to the Sacred Fire, then found our way down to a table filled with Chef Charles Catchpole’s Bannock and Cedar Tea, and a basket of seeds and seedlings to take away. A Red-Tailed Hawk, Elder Catherine’s Clan animal, circled overhead.

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Gift of tobacco (Photo by Marcelle St-Amant)

The Noojimo’iwein Gitigaan/Healing Garden is Toronto’s first National Healing Forest project.   

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