The IRSS Legacy project responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Call to Action 82: We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.
While the TRC requests the establishment of a monument, Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre (Council Fire) has interpreted this call in a culturally appropriate way with the commission and installation of a Turtle sculpture which is inclusive of our peoples and more reflective of our teachings. Council Fire was approached by the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (formerly the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation) to lead this call for the Ontario region. Council Fire is an autonomous, vibrant cultural agency that involves and serves the Indigenous community with confidence for and commitment for their well-being.
In fall 2017, the south-west corner of Nathan Phillips Square was identified as the ideal location for this sculpture through the engagement of residential school survivors and the wider Indigenous community
With the engagement and interaction of residential school survivors and inter-generational members and our collaboration with the City of Toronto, Council Fire is developing a Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Healing (TLSH) space as the home site for our Turtle. The TLSH will be a place for reflection, learning and building of good relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
The Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Legacy project commits to work towards truth and reconciliation.
Restoration of Identity sculpture
The sculpture features the snapping turtle climbing over a boulder. Etched in the boulder will list all the residential schools operated in Ontario.
The turtle symbolizes Mother Earth and acknowledges residential school survivors, nations and clans, rooting them back to their rightful place within creation.
This design is based on the traditional Indigenous creation story of Turtle Island. The turtle shell tiles represent the 13 moons in the Indigenous lunar calendar and the 28 surrounding tiles represent the number of days between the new moons. To acknowledge the First Peoples of this region, 13 tiles honours and recognizes the 11 Nations, the Métis Peoples and the Inuit.
The Restoration of Identity sculpture will be 9 feet tall, 6 feet wide and 9 feet long.
Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Healing space
An inclusive, accessible space with year-round programming held by Elders, traditional teachers, educational institutions and like-minded organizations and working with people of the four directions.
To rejoice this milestone, IRSS Legacy Celebration offers the diverse Indigenous community to restore their identity and legacy on October 9-11, 2018 at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. This cultural gathering will host a variety of traditional performances, cultural teachings, ceremonies and workshops.
To mark and celebrate this significant milestone, the IRSS Legacy Celebration will be held on October 9 to 11, 2018 at Nathan Phillips Square. The cultural gathering offers the diverse Indigenous community with an opportunity to honour residential school survivors and celebrate Indigenous cultural resiliency and diversity. The family-friendly program includes cultural activations, traditional workshops, an indigenous marketplace and food vendors.
Solomon King is an Anishnaabe artist and the owner of Stone Artisan Studios Ltd. He is a focused, self-directed individual with over 15 years of experience working in community arts. Guided by the belief that art is a journey of self-discovery and catalyst for reclaiming and empowering the spirit, he views art as a forum for exchanging ideas between all peoples. Through this tremendous project, he has been given an opportunity to reconnect with culture and strengthen his own Anishinaabe identity.
Follow Solomon’s creative process:
– Residential Schools Monument, Winnipeg, Manitoba
– Residential Schools Memorial Totem, Whitehorse, Yukon
– “The Children” Residential Schools Monument, Cranbrook, British Columbia
– Syilx/Okanagan Indian Residential Schools Monument, Penticton, British Columbia
– “Never Again” Community Commemorative Monument, Penticton, British Columbia
– Community Commemorative Monument, West Kelowna, British Columbia
– Community Commemorative Monument, Douglas Lake, British Columbia
– Community Commemorative Monument, Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB), British Columbia
– Community Commemorative Monument, Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB), British Columbia
– Sacred Heart Mission School Monument, Fort Providence, Northwest Territories
yaw^ko, miigwetch, nia:wen, wachiye, koolamulsa
Thank you to the generous contributions to our sponsors. Together we are repairing what was damaged, reclaiming what has been displaced and working towards restitution for future generations.
The IRSS Legacy Project would not be possible without the tremendous community support.