Healthy Communities

Understanding our continued commitment to Reconciliation

20 June 2022 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

June 21 is Indigenous Peoples Day across Turtle Island, the area also known as Canada. This day coincides with the beginning of summer or summer solstice and is a day to celebrate, recognize, and honour the achievements, histories, and cultures of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples on Turtle Island.

Starting on Indigenous Peoples Day, YMCA of Greater Toronto employees will begin a journey of further learning about Indigenous peoples, histories, cultures, and colonization in Canada. Our charity has worked closely with First Nations University, a university that specializes in Indigenous knowledge for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike, to introduce 4 Seasons of Reconciliation, a customized course for all YMCA of Greater Toronto staff. We realize that education and understanding start with us as individuals – that's why it’s important to our charity that we make this course available to all staff over the coming months.

The roll-out of this course is a milestone for our charity as we transition our approaches to be anti-colonial, anti-racist, and more equitable in their nature; we’re striving to be a charity where everyone can feel a sense of community, safety, and belonging.

About Indigenous History Month

Indigenous History Month is a chance to learn and honour the histories, legacies, and diversity of Indigenous Peoples in the area known as Canada. This month and day originated in 1982 when The Assembly of First Nations proposed the creation of National Aboriginal Solidarity Day as a commemorative day. Eight years later, Quebec became the first province or territory to designate June 21 as Indigenous Culture Day. In 1996, Former Governor General Roméo A. LeBlanc declared the day to be National Aboriginal Day. Though celebrations weren’t as large as the events we experience today, progress was being made to recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples.

The House of Commons unanimously passed a motion in 2009 proclaiming June as National Indigenous History Month. The renaming of National Aboriginal Day came more recently in 2017 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared June 21 would be officially called ‘National Indigenous Peoples Day’. The shift to the term "Indigenous" aligned Canada with the United Nations’ usage of the term in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We hope that you’ll join us in acknowledging Indigenous Peoples Day, Indigenous History Month, and continuing your commitment and lifelong journey to listen, learn, and act.

Understanding Indigenous experiences

For more learning, see the articles, videos, websites, and event listings below to deepen your understanding of Indigenous experiences. With this knowledge we — YMCA employees and everyone in our communities — can walk a path towards reconciliation in a good way.

Summer 2022 happenings 

2022 Ontario Pow Wow calendar

Indigenous & Black Farmers Market – ‘Deeply Rooted’ Market runs every Sunday until September 25, 2022, in Dieppe Park in East York/Toronto

Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture Free public admission to the Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture. Located on the first level of the Royal Ontario Museum

Websites and reports 

The Canadian Encyclopedia: Indigenous Peoples

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)

94 Calls to Action, from the TRC

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Includes the final report(s), Calls for Justice, Executive Summary, etc.

National Indigenous Economic Strategy, Report Summary

Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. 21 Things You May Not Have Known About the Indian Act

YMCA Canada: Statement of Reconciliation & Update on Reconciliation Initiatives within the YMCA Associations of Canada

National Indigenous Histories Month (and why it’s important)


Land Acknowledgements – We Were Always Here (11 min run time) This video sheds light on how Indigenous people’s lives and histories have shaped Toronto’s origins and asks the question: In this era of reconciliation, how do we acknowledge our collective history?

What non-Indigenous Canadians need to know (4.5 min run time) Eddy Robinson is an educator on issues affecting Indigenous peoples. In this video, he explains why asking, "How can I help?" is not the right question.

Grandmother's voice video Grandmother Renee will share the knowledge of how to honour the Natural World and how it helps us to live in a good way.

Jeremy Dutcher A classically trained Indigenous tenor, composer, musicologist, performer and activist who uses archival recordings of traditional Maliseet songs within their musical creations.

Honour Song | First Play Live

Mehcinut, Music Video

Archives  and virtual exhibits 

Project Naming – Conceived by Nunavut Sivuniksavut and beginning as a collaboration between that organization, the Government of Nunavut and the National Archives of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada). This project enables Indigenous peoples to engage in the identification of photographs from their archives.

Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket – This film follows the journey of making the Witness Blanket – a national monument that commemorates the experiences of residential school survivors across Canada.

Woodland Cultural Centre’s Virtual Tour of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School – Hosted regularly throughout the year.


All My Relations podcast – A place to explore relationships to land, place, people, non-human relatives, and one another, in all its complexities. Hosts: Matika Wilbur and Adrieene Keene.

Nation to Nation podcast – A weekly look at politics affecting Indigenous people in Canada

Story Keepers Podcast – Join Waubgeshig Rice and Jennifer David as they talk ‘all things Indigenous books’

Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s – Journalist Connie Walker came upon a story about her late father she’d never heard before. In this podcast, Connie unearths how her family story fits into one of Canada’s darkest chapters: The residential school system

Unreserved with Rosanna Deerchild on CBC Listen – A radio space for Indigenous voices – cousins, aunties, elder and heroes

Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo – Where is Cleo? CBC reporter Connie Walker joins the search to find out what really happened to Cleo.

Resources, articles and courses (free)

Towards Braiding - This downloadable PDF suggests a path and approach towards authentically enfolding Indigenous voices and views into an organization

Two Row Times: One Quarter of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Have Grave Searches Underway – Article

An Indigenous Producer was turned away from the Cannes red carpet for wearing moccasins – Article

Aboriginal World Views and Education Course – Created by University of Toronto, offered via Coursera

Indigenous Canada Course – Created by the University of Alberta, offered via Coursera

Reconciliation through Indigenous Education – Advancing reconciliation in classrooms, organizations and communities. – Created by The University of British Columbia, offered via edX.

University of Toronto OISE | Ontario Institute for Studies in Education – Indigenous Education modules


Written by Jenna Robar, Manager of Indigenous Relationships and Christina Sanakidis, Manager of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging. 





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