Reconciliation Statement

Approved: October 30th, 2023

Land Acknowledgment

Toronto Public Library is situated on Indigenous land and Dish with One Spoon territory. This is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Toronto Public Library gratefully acknowledges these Indigenous Nations for their guardianship of this land.

Toronto Public Library's Commitment

TPL is committed to an ongoing and long-term response to Reconciliation. This statement establishes our responsibilities, including a commitment to furthering public and staff education, improving relationships with Indigenous Peoples and developing library programs and services aimed at meeting the needs of Indigenous communities.

TPL acknowledges that the practice of colonialism instigated and perpetuated serious harms through attempts to forcefully assimilate, displace, and systemically erase Indigenous cultures, languages, and Peoples. TPL also acknowledges that the consequences of these atrocities continue to negatively impact Indigenous Peoples, including those living in Toronto*.

We acknowledge that TPL has responsibility to ensure that the Library is a culturally safe and relevant space for Indigenous communities in Toronto. We will do this by making our spaces, collections, and services reach, engage and reflect Indigenous communities and help them express and amplify their voices. TPL will facilitate public and staff education and awareness on Truth and Reconciliation, residential schools and treaty relationships.

TPL also acknowledges its role in contributing to the inequities experienced by Indigenous Peoples living in Toronto and is committed to reviewing TPL's policies, procedures and structures to eliminate barriers to access for Indigenous Peoples.

TPL's work to further Reconciliation is guided by consultation with Indigenous Peoples, including the Indigenous Advisory Council, and by the City of Toronto's Reconciliation Action Plan (2022-2032); the principles detailed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007); and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada: Calls to Action (2015). TPL's commitment to Reconciliation was initiated in 2017 with its Strategies for Indigenous Initiatives, developed for consultation with Indigenous Peoples and communities in response to the TRC Calls to Action.

As included in TPL's Equity Statement, TPL recognizes in our work and approaches that Reconciliation and justice are not the same as achieving equity, and that Indigenous Peoples are not seeking equity but rather seeking to have their distinct Aboriginal and Treaty Rights recognized and protected.

To fulfil this commitment to Reconciliation, TPL will actively pursue the following goals:

TPL acknowledges that Reconciliation is an ongoing process. TPL's response will evolve as it continues its own education and engagement with the diverse Indigenous communities in Toronto.

*The name Toronto is derived from the word Tkaronto. Tkaronto means “the place in the water where the trees are standing” in the Mohawk language (Kanien'kéha, Kanyen'kéha). This is one of many Indigenous names that have been used in reference to these lands. For example, Adobigok, (Anishinaabemowin, meaning “place of the alders” or “where the alders grow”) refers to Etobicoke Creek and the surrounding area. Another term, Ishpaadinaa (Anishinaabemowin, meaning “sudden rise in the land”), refers to a natural bluff that runs east to west at the northern terminus of Spadina and overlooks a natural footpath used by Indigenous Peoples for millennia. The area we now know as Toronto has been lived on by various Indigenous communities since time immemorial.


(Excerpted from the City of Toronto Reconciliation Action Plan 2022-2032)

Aboriginal - This dated term is used in the Constitution Act (1982) to collectively refer to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and should now be used precisely, with caution and care.

Colonization - The establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a set of unequal relationships between the colonial power and the colony, and between the colonists and the Indigenous population.

First Nations - A term which began to become adopted in the early 1980s, this collective term refers to the original nations, whose members and descendants existed across the territory for thousands of years, and were colonially referred to as “status and non-status Indians” as described by the Indian Act, 1876.

Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples - A term used internationally to collectively represent the original inhabitants or those naturally existing in a particular place. In this context, “Indigenous” is used to refer to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

Indigenous communities - A term used to collectively refer to the multiple differing communities comprised of diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples within Toronto.

Inuit - The Inuit are Indigenous Peoples whose territories lay within the circumpolar arctic regions of the world. This includes Canada's far north regions of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and northern parts of Labrador and Québec. The word Inuit means “people” in the Inuit language, Inuktitut.

Métis - The Métis are distinct Indigenous Peoples with unique histories, cultures, languages, principles of governance, and territories that include the waterways of Ontario, that surround the Great Lakes, and that span what is known as the historic Northwest.

Place-making and Place-keeping - The collective re-imagining of public spaces to strengthen the connection between place, community, values, culture, past, present and future.

Reconciliation - Reconciliation requires mutually respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous People, awareness of the past, acknowledgement of and atonement for the harms that have been caused, and actions to change behaviour. The actions taken for reconciliation must be taken in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, and directly respond to the self-identified needs and directives as set out by Indigenous community members, organizations and leaders.

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