Toronto has a long Indigenous history that we aren’t always aware of. The name Toronto is derived from a Mohawk word “tkaronto,” which means “where there are trees standing in the water.” The marker was originally ascribed to The Narrows, between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching, but later became associated with Toronto because it was there that the passage between Lakes Ontario and Simcoe existed.
When Europeans began settling the area we now call home, the Indigenous people on the land were the Mississaugas, who settled on the Credit River. There had been earlier settlement in southern Ontario by Wendat people and other Iroquoians – archaeological sites dot the city. The land was purchased from the Missisaugas by the British Crown in a deal later known as the Toronto Purchase.
Like many others land purchases, it was a shoddy deal for the Indigenous peoples who believed the agreement was for the lease of the land, and not the outright purchase. A land claim in 2010 sided with the Mississauga, and paid them $145 million. Today the Mississaugas of New Credit live next to the Six Nations of Grand River near Brantford, and are recognized as the host First Nation for the Pan Am games later this year.
It isn’t clear how many Indigenous people call Toronto home today. While the City puts the number around 19,000, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada put the number closer to 37,000. Some Indigenous groups in the city put the number even higher. In the past, it sometimes seemed that Indigenous people had very low visibility in this city, but this is no longer the case. Toronto has many places where one can learn about Indigenous history and culture… Read More