We wish to acknowledge this land on which The Hoser operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.
During the summer of 2021, The Hoser will be working with Kirsten Marshall, our first summer student. On June 27, Marshall and Hoser members Ashley Marshall and Shannon Carranco ventured along Tkaronto’s western beaches, walking along Half Moon Bay, through Marilyn Bell Park and into the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds. The purpose of this outing was to photograph the landscape for our first anti-Canada Day article by Shaya MacDonald, titled Do Not Laugh, Move or Breathe During the Freedom Song. Throughout the walk we discussed the significance of the land we were on, who it belonged to, and the white-washing of Tkaronto’s history. We looked at the monuments in the CNE that only go as far back as the 18th century, that commemorate French trading posts and English settlements, but give no mention to the Indigenous history of the land. We visited Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang’s Unity Pole that stands next to the Toronto Sport Club, but features no plaque of its own. Kirsten Marshall took photos of what she thought was significant and meaningful to her.
This photo essay has multiple ideologies in mind, including Albert Marshall's "Two Eyes Seeing," an Indigenous way of learning; it is the act of bringing two or more perspectives into play to better understand the world we live in. And flânerie, which is a practise enjoyed by bourgeois classes and a focus of critique since the 19th century. We flipped the practise on its head and engaged with the city critically.
Kirsten Marshall a biracial second year undergraduate student studying psychology. She loves to explore the deeper meaning that lies beneath simple concepts outdoors, preferably near the water. Growing up in a small town, Tkaronto has always felt like a very overcrowded and busy city that is filled with so much voice and art.
Our walk began by the Lakeshore Boulevard Parklands after crossing the buzzing sidewalk. What struck me about this moment was how oddly these boulders were placed. Water signifies purity and refreshment, and the rocks that surround it and mold to the water’s current is natural. These man-placed boulders located in the middle of the beach take away from the natural beauty of water.
To the right was a beautiful view of Lake Ontario. I love this picture because the rocks across the water signifies the challenges people who continue to be discriminated against, including Black and Indigenous people, from upward mobility. The view of the city consists of tall buildings which symbolize industry and the notion of progress, but without consideration for the sustainability of nature.
To the right of the boardwalk, before the open field filled with trees and green grass, there was a layer of pavement designated for pedestrians to safely travel without interference from others. The words “Land Back,” symbolizing subcultural resistance by culture jamming, are spray painted on the pavement. Land Back is a symbol of counterculture, rejecting the beliefs and values of the mainstream. The history we learned in school often skips over the genocides caused by colonialism to make Canada seem like “a great place.” This image provoked the questions “great for whom,” and “how?”
Streets are named to explain more about an area. Many of the places named around Canada originated from Indigenous terms. Words like this have been anglicized for English speakers to pronounce more easily which continues to contribute to repression of Indigenous roots. Tkaronto is built on Indigenous land, yet there are next to no streets or art pieces dedicated towards Indigenous names and cultures.
Across from the street signs stood tall and small trees. I like this picture because it appears as if the tall tree is puppeting the smaller tree as it hovers over it. These trees represent the formation of ideologies of the next generations based on the way the education system describes history. The smaller tree represents the open mind of a child, and the taller tree informs and guides the way the smaller tree thinks. Racism is taught, nobody is born racist.
This captured moment represents togetherness. The hidden CN Tower is found in the middle of the frame, and to the left is a tall bus, the same colour red as the Canadian flag. This bus briefly stopped on the right side of the road for pedestrians. This pedestrian walking in the middle is representing their support for the Toronto baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays. This image is quintessentially Torontonian, or the version of peace and harmony settlers find comfort in. This image feels like the home we are taught to be proud of.
Across from the small bit of recognition for Indigenous culture, Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang’s Unity Pole, was this striped white billboard and numerous tall Canadian flags to the left of it. On the billboard it says “together we will rewrite history,” in a bold, Black, font. This makes me question what this message is trying to convey. This billboard is used to promote a private sports club, which completely contradicts the reasoning for reviewing history and to find the answers to the unexplained questions to why the world works the way it does.
“True north strong and free.” That's ironic! This moment makes me think “Go on! Enjoy the playground, shoot some hoops with your friends! Enjoy the green grass and the tall trees and the beauty of nature. But...don't forget we're always watching you.”
Crossing over the busy highway bridge was a landscape view of the city of Tkaronto. The overlapping fence in the foreground of the view represents the colonization, racism, social exclusion and lack of self-determination that continues to affect the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples in Tkaronto.
Up the shore of the beach sat one red and one white painted cottage chairs, chained to a tree. Behind the tree were two bikes that were also chained to the tree. These items are chained to the tree to prevent people from stealing them. However the land where the tree is located is on stolen land.
A few steps down from the spray painted “Land Back” on the boardwalk was the famous and powerful Black Lives Matter fist stenciled onto a big rock. This symbol is presented all throughout Tkaronto, history, and the media. The little grains of sand that lay in the crevices of the rocks and fist demonstrates degradation.
Totem poles are an important symbol in Indigenous cultures. The totem pole starts with animals closest to the earth at the bottom and air animals at the top. Indigenous cultures value eagles, as they signify the master of skies. This is one of the very few pieces of Indigenous art demonstrated in Tkaronto. About 10 feet left from the pole stood a tall waving Canadian flag which completely disregards the value and meaning of the totem pole.