Pathways to the Eighth Fire: Mapping Indigenous Knowledge in Toronto
Johnson, Jon James
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A considerable body of scholarly research now accords with long-held Indigenous prophecy in affirming the ongoing importance of Indigenous knowledge for the health and wellness of contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and their environments. Yet, while much research has examined Indigenous knowledge and traditions in more natural or rural contexts, there has been to date very little examination of the presence and character of Indigenous knowledge and traditions in more urban contexts. This dissertation redresses this gap in the research via an analysis of Indigenous knowledge, traditions, and storytelling in Toronto and their prophetic implications for contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The analysis is based on a comparative literature review of Indigenous knowledge, traditions, and community as they have been practiced in urban and non-urban locales, long-term participation within Toronto’s Indigenous community particularly as a tour guide for the highly-regarded community-based Great ‘Indian’ Bus Tour of Toronto, and in-depth semi-structured interviews with a small group of Anishinaabe Torontonians regarding their perceptions of the city and the practice of urban Indigenous knowledge and traditions. These lines of investigation revealed that land-based urban Indigenous knowledge and storytelling traditions are practiced in at least some cities like Toronto in ways that exhibit significant similarities and continuities with those practiced in non-urban locales. Land-based stories of Toronto’s Indigenous heritage shared among Indigenous Torontonians portray Toronto as a traditional Indigenous territory, promote life – and land – affirming connections to places in the city and the development of a cosmopolitan ethics of place that may constitute a significant pathway to the Eighth Fire of Anishinaabe prophecy.