Toronto is a city with a rich art culture and its inclusive society means everyone can pitch in and share their work. That said, the city has a strong indigenous art scene that offers unique cultural experiences and knowledge.
Looking for fun events to learn about the extravagant art of Toronto’s indigenous groups? Check out this list of the Indigenous art events you must see.
Return to Your Roots: 5 Indigenous Arts Events In Toronto
1. The Indigenous Arts Festival
Address: Fort York, 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto
When: June of every year
The Indigenous Arts Festival is an annual event that celebrates Aboriginal communities’ culture and talent. Featuring a mix of contemporary and traditional arts, music, and delicious food, this event is an all-in-one adventure into the art within indigenous culture.
Dazzling dancers in colourful attire will have you tapping your feet to indigenous melodies as they perform lively hoop and jingle dances. Village elders will make you love the art of oral tradition with tales that make history feel like a blockbuster movie.
You can also score unique eats that you won’t find anywhere else, like traditional Bannock bread with fruit jam. Our favourite dish is the lean and meaty Bison Burger, which is extremely juicy and bursting with savoury flavours.
You’ll be able to attend a drum-making workshop and observe an expert craftsman hand-make a traditional drum from start to finish.
2. Indigenous Education Week: Indigenous Regalia & Fashion Show
Address: Hart House, 7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3
Contact details: 416-978-8227
When: October – November of every year
Every fall, the University of Toronto’s Indigenous Education Week, offers a dynamic celebration of Indigenous identity and culture. The theme of Indigenous Education Week changes each year, so there’s always something new to look forward to.
These events bring the essence of Indigenous culture to light through art, dance, and social aspects, bridging the traditional and contemporary. Expect guest speakers, artists, and notable figures to elevate the experience.
During Indigenous Education Week, you can usually have a meet and greet with famous Indigenous performers or public speakers.
3. imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
Address: TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St W, Toronto
Contact details: 416 585 2333
Month Event Takes Place: October
imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival serves as a vibrant platform for showcasing an array of remarkable short and feature films made by Indigenous groups.
Every year, the festival unveils a dynamic roster of pioneering and inventive films for the public to experience. Expect to see attractions like the fantastic Art Crawl, which highlights remarkable art pieces that show the culture and traditions of T.O’s natives.
Video game enthusiasts eager to explore virtual reality should check out the “iNdigital days” festival, offering immersive VR experiences and a plethora of games to enjoy.
4. Na-Me-Res Pow Wow
Address: Fort York, 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto
Month Event Takes Place: June of every year
Na-Me-Res Traditional Pow Wow is an event that highlights traditional dances and emphasises the sale of artisan crafts by indigenous vendors. It aims to help homeless indigenous people through the sale of artisan goods.
The event has hundreds of Indigenous dancers donning colourful attire, moving to the rhythmic beats of drum circles. Don’t miss the Men’s Fancy Feather dance, where acrobatic stunts accompany the mesmerising shake of fringe and feather bustles.
One of the event’s main attractions is the sale of traditional handmade artisan crafts by various indigenous groups, featuring colourful jewellery, headwear, and beaded accessories to enhance your style.
Don’t miss the Grand Entry ceremony, which starts at noon. This is where an elder guides dancers into a circular arena, as representatives of each tribe wave their respective flags.
5. Canada’s Largest Indigenous Youth Performance
Address: 1 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1B2
Contact details: 416-366-7723
Month Event Takes Place: May of every year
If you’re all about grooving to the rhythm, make sure not to miss Canada’s Largest Indigenous Youth Performance. It’s a thrilling plunge into the world of native music and dance, where aboriginal youth put on exhilarating performances.
A dynamic mix of dances from diverse First Nations groups, this event celebrates their individuality. From the Fancy Dance’s acrobatics to the Round Dance’s harmonious blend of vocals and movement, it’s a vibrant cultural celebration in every step and beat!
The show’s standout feature is the captivating fusion of traditional Indigenous dances with contemporary elements, breathing fresh air into traditional Indigenous dance forms.
Make sure to snap some photos of the light and visual displays during the performances. This event is known for its vibrant lights and visual displays which show vibrant imagery inspired by the First Nations culture and art.