Indigenous experiences in Kingston

By Abigail Beckett

Kingston is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and Huron-Wendat First Nations. In Anishinaabemowin, this space is called “Gaadanokwii,” which is interpreted to mean “a great meeting place.” In Huron-Wendat it is known as “Ken’tarókwen” and in Mohawk it is known as “Ka’tarohkwi;” both are interpreted to mean “a place where there is clay.” Clay in this context refers to the location of ancestral roots.

Tourism Kingston acknowledges the everlasting presence of other Indigenous nations, the Métis, Inuit, and other First Nations that now share this landscape with us. We are grateful to reside in and remain visitors to this territory, while acknowledging our shared responsibility to honour this space by walking gently and respectfully upon the land and preserving and purifying the surrounding waters. See what Indigenous art, cultural and learning opportunities are in the Katarokwi/Kingston area.

Katarakowi Arts and Food Market

Springer Market Square

Sundays 10 am – 3 pm
From June 12 until September 25

Visit Springer Market Square for the Katarokwi Indigenous Art and Food Market. The market showcases a variety of local Indigenous artists, musicians, and artisans and is the only market of its kind in eastern Ontario. Check out featured vendors including Bougie Birch, Martin’s Bead and Craft Supplies, Cadue Fine Foods, Flint and Maple Beadwork, and W.C. Creatives. Featured musicians from June included Lorrie Young & Broderick Gabriel, B Heaslip, Cris Derksen, Whispering Winds, and Myrriah Xochitl. Performances begin at noon. The market runs every Sunday until the end of September but will not occur on August 28 due to the Limestone City Blues Festival.

Indigenous art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre

36 University Ave.

Monday – Wednesday and Friday 10 am– 4:30 pm/ Thursday 10 am– 9 pm/ Saturday – Sunday 1 – 5 pm

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is home to many different collections, including the Indigenous Art Collection. Comprising various media forms, the collection features work by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists from Turtle Island and internationally. The collection traverses contemporary and historical art collections.


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Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning: Indigenous Arts Series 2022

370 King Street West

Monday – Friday 8 am – 9 pm / Sunday 8 am – 5 pm

The Tett Centre is hosting an Indigenous Art Series for 2022. These workshops are developed and facilitated by artists based in Katarokwi and Tyendinaga. While learning how to create various crafts, explore the associated history of teachings with each artform. Three workshops have already happened for the 2022 year. In January, there was dreamcatcher making with Melanie Gray, in April there was porcupine quill earring making with Melanie Gray, and recently in July there was an introduction to Métis sash weaving and oral stories with Candace Lloyd. Upcoming workshops include beaded corn with Tsiokeriio and beaded poppies with Candace Lloyd.

Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest (KILN)

610 Montreal Street

The KILN began as a grassroots project by a local group of Indigenous language lovers and learners. Their vision was to advocate for the urban resurgence of Indigenous languages and to continue this growing movement. KILN offers community workshops and language learning sessions in a variety of formats. Learning opportunities and approaches include games, songs, conversations, vocabulary, and grammar lessons. Their website also features the Dibajimowin: Urban Indigenous Languages Revitalization Project – a collection of 30 digital stories about culture and language from community members.

StoryMe: Indigenous Voices

Digital Kingston, Part of Kingston Frontenac Public Library

Digital Kingston is an online resource part of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL). The StoryMe: Indigenous Voices project is part of a larger project to capture the voices and stories of the people of Kingston. The KFPL staff conducted a series of oral history interviews with community members, Elders, and language keepers between July and December of 2021 in the Kingston-Frontenac region and surrounding areas. The goal of this project was to collect histories, memories, and stories from local Indigenous peoples and have it told in their traditional way. As well, by adding these interviews to a digital archive, these histories can remain accessible to future residents, students, and the public. Discover local and regional stories and histories at the StoryMe: Indigenous Voices project. Also, check out KFPL’s Indigenous book collection.

Kick and Push Festival

August 8 – 14, 2022

Check out the Kick and Push theatre festival happening this August. Kick and Push, in partnership with Parks Canada, presents original performances from three Indigenous movement artists on Cedar Island National Park. Works will be shown to audiences in front of a traditional longhouse and illuminated by 3D projection mapping. This experience will be curated by Waawaate Fobisteer, an Anishinaabe Dora-award-winning actor, dancer, playwright, and storyteller from the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation.

Manidoo Ogitigan (Spirit Garden)

Lake Ontario Park, 920 King Street W.

Manidoo Ogitigan (“Spirit Garden”) is a living public artwork and commemoration garden designed by landscape architect and artist Terence Radford that creates an intimate gathering space for reflection, ceremony, and teaching. It is located in Lake Ontario Park and it incorporates the history of important Wampum Belts, the symbolism of the medicine wheel, with reference to the Alderville Methodist Church and includes over 430 select native plant species. The public artwork was developed as a joint project of the Alderville First Nation and the City of Kingston that aims to commemorate the historical and contemporary ties between the Nation and the Kingston area.

TREATY: A Reconciliation Revelry

Kingston Grand Theatre, Rosen Auditorium

March 29, 2023 at 7:30 pm

This 2023 event happening at the Kingston Grand Theatre presents a journey of varied experiences through different stories of encounter and conflict to resolution, recognition, understanding, and respect. Using a variety of mediums; videos, narrative, and music, the stories and messages are situated in the context of contemporary issues and events, along with historical context to understand Indigenous experiences and realities. The show builds a story that seeks to create a pathway toward Truth and Reconciliation. Ticket prices are a “pay what you want” to allow audiences to attend the show at no charge and pay a voluntary amount based on their experience after the show.