East York Historical Society celebrates Canada 150

Guest speaker Johnny Issaluk looks ahead to country's next 150 years

The East York Historical Society commemorated Canada 150 at its most recent meeting.

Members gathered Tuesday night, in the midst of an oppressive heat wave, at the S. Walter Stewart branch of the Toronto Public Library. They were given refreshments and an air-conditioned welcome as actor Johnny Issaluk and author Scott Kennedy spoke to them about Canada.

“I have listened to all the reasons why it is impossible to be proudly Indigenous and proudly Canadian,” said Issaluk, who is of Inuit descent. “I have engaged in conversations with you about how we want to see Canada develop over the next 150 years.”

He wore a special red Canada 150 hockey jersey, which featured the official emblem of the event, a customized maple leaf with 13 diamonds.

“I’m sweating because it’s really hot down here. It’s snowing back home,” Issaluk joked as the crowd laughed.

Kennedy talked about the history of Canada, specifically the Don Mills area. In his slideshow, he showed pictures of what the area used to look like, from forests and farms to roads and highways.

“The Don Mills was a term first coined by E.P. Taylor, who was part of a development company in the ’50s,” he explained.

After the slideshow, Beaches-East York councillor Janet Davis talked about the importance of recognizing the heritage of Indigenous peoples.

“We acknowledge the sacred land on which we operate and (that) has been the site of human activity for 15,000 years,” she said. “Today the meeting place of Toronto is still home to many Indigenous people and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work with you on this day.”