By Sean Delaney
On Tuesday, June 21 at 5:30 a.m., the City of Toronto presented the annual Sunrise Ceremony to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, which celebrates the unique heritage, diversity and valued contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
This year is the first time the ceremony took place in Nathan Phillips Square as an in-person event since 2019.
The Sunrise Ceremony was led by Elder Garry Sault of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, as well as feature a Water Ceremony and teachings by Knowledge Keeper Kim Wheatley and traditional drumming by Young Creek Drummers.
Mayor John Tory issued a proclamation for National Indigenous Peoples Day, followed by remarks from Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Luanne Joy Cunningham, Women’s Representative of the Toronto & York Region Métis Council, and The Hon. Marci Ien, MP (Toronto Centre), Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.
Councillor Mike Layton (University-Rosedale) emceed the event.
National Indigenous Peoples Day was first proclaimed in 1996 to celebrate the unique heritage, diversity and valued contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Tkaronto and all of Turtle Island to help build stronger relationships with Indigenous communities, rooted in mutual respect and understanding. It is also a time to remember the unmarked graves across the country that continue to be recovered and mourn those who never returned home from residential schools, as well as recommit to actively working towards truth, justice and reconciliation in their memory.
“It is an honour to proclaim National Indigenous Peoples Day and celebrate the diverse heritage, cultures and traditions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples with the return of the annual sunrise ceremony to Nathan Phillips Square. Today, we also reaffirm our commitment to advancing truth, justice and reconciliation, as well as working together with Indigenous community members and leaders to ensure Toronto is a place where Indigenous people can thrive,” said Mayor John Tory.
“The Mississaugas of the Credit are thankful to be part of this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day Sunrise Ceremony. This is an important occasion where we can come together as a community to celebrate, give thanks and reflect. I look forward to continuing to walk the path of friendship and healing together with the City, as it continues its journey towards reconciliation,” said Chief R. Stacey Laforme, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.