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We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land that you are watching from.

TIFF is located on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit and the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, the Wendat, and the Haudenosaunee.

We are grateful to work on this land.

The History of The Land Mural

“The History of The Land” Mural

by Indigenous Artist Philip Cote is located at the north east corner of Spadina & Dupont.

Commissioned by: Dupont by the Castle BIA and Street Art Toronto (StArt), and The City of Toronto.

The beginning of the Mural depicts an Indigenous leader with eagle headdress representing the ancient Ice Runners known as the “Oh-kwa-ming-i-nini-wug” of Anishinaabe/Algonquin lineage. Their presence here pre-dates the current Indigenous population by some 100,000 years. They travelled across the ice fields that came down to the present day City of Toronto right up along Davenport Road.

The Wisconsin Glaciers were two kilometers high (7 times as tall as the CN Tower) and at the edge became hunting grounds for the Anishinaabe. There were Shortfaced Bears, Sabertoothed Cats, Megatheriums, Woolly Rhinos, Giant Elk, 6ft tall 400lbs Beavers, Dire Wolves, and Giant Mi-gi-zi’ Eagles with 20 foot wing spans.

The Ice Runner on the Mural is looking towards a vision of future generations and towards the Giant Buffalo on the right hand side of the Mural. These ancient giant wood buffalo once roamed across this land now called the City of Toronto. The Ice-Runner is running behind the wolf (The Wolf is the First Brother of Man in our ancient stories and was remembered by our faith keepers known as the Midewin the “Grand Medicine Society”), the Black Thunderbird symbol in the Medicine Wheel Circle is the symbol of the Anishinaabe People who were the first to inhabit this territory some say before the last ice age.

Then you will see the Tobacco Plant, which is an important Sacred Medicine offered up in our Ceremonies by all the nations and confederacies across this land. Tobacco is represented in the East on the Medicine Wheel. It is one of the four sacred medicines.

The Crane is part of The Anishinaabe Clan System of Governance. The Crane Clan shares power of Chieftainship with the Loon Clan. Crane Clan takes care of leadership of external relations, external negotiations, speaker of the community, leadership and mediation and expresses sentiments for the people.

The next symbol, the Beaver, is the symbol of The Wendat People who were the next in the order of inhabiting this territory.

Next you will see an Anishinaabe Moccasin. It is a message of the many trails Indigenous peoples traveled across the city for over 13,500 years. The Moccasin is on Cedar which is a medicine that is put down on the floor of the sweatlodge or burnt as a smudge to honour the thunderbeings and our homes. Cedar is in the South on the Medicine Wheel and is used as a tea or in a bath for cleansing the body.

The next symbol is the Star Symbol of the Cree peoples who migrated to the land in the northern part of Ontario.

And then depicted is the eagle that can travel to the edge of the stratosphere coming close to the spirit-world, and is thus closest to the Creator.

The eagle feather and eagle wings are Sacred, they are used in Smudge Ceremonies, and the eagle feather is a symbol of truth, power and freedom.

The Beaver is a symbol of advancement of trade and Industry/progress since it is a builder of dam’s and was central during the fur trade.

Next is the Canoe and Sage. Sage is in the West on the Medicine Wheel and is another medicine used for smudging and cleansing. The canoe is there because it is a symbol of all the paths and a national trade network that Indigenous Peoples created which were used for over 5,000 years, like the carrying place trails connected to Humber, Don and Rouge Rivers leading to Lac Toronto and the Great Lakes North.

The Next Circle is the flag of the Haudenosaunee People. It represents the Hiawatha Belt and is a direct connection to the Peacemaker who brought teachings of the Great Law.

Then we have the Raven (also known as the Trickster), and the Bear.

The Fish represents the Intellect of the community and is a knowledge keeper.

The Bear is another Clan Animal. Bears are settlement guardians, they patrol the local territory; also, they know medicinal plants and are healers, guardians of traditions. The Bear stands on a loop of braided Sweetgrass. This medicine is in the North, another one of the four sacred medicines used in smudging and Ceremony. Sweetgrass is a symbol our Mother Earths hair and that is why we braid sweetgrass to show our respect of her and all she does for us everyday. The bear is also part of a prophecy in connection to the North as it was told that a white bear will show itself and this will represent the Eighth Fire a time we are in now.

The Bear looks on towards the Giant Buffalo. There were once 60,000,000 Buffalo in North America. The Indigenous people used all the parts of the animal, the furs for clothing and shelter and warmth, the meat for food, the bones for tools, and nothing was wasted. It is said that one day there will be a Return of the Buffalo to this land and will roam free once again.


“All My Relations”, which means We Are All Related.

Philip Cote, MFA
Young Spiritual Elder

Artist, Activist, Ancestral Knowledge Keeper, Historian & Storyteller

Moose Deer Point First Nation: Underwater Panther Clan
Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi, and Ojibway

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