Indigenous getaways and educational experiences in Ontario

With Indigenous communities all across the province and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted more each week, now is a good time to plan some educational visits to see firsthand the people and traditions that tell their stories and appreciate the richness of Indigenous culture and heritage of this territory. Call ahead first to make sure these nine getaways are open when you’re ready to go!

Indigenous Walks Art Tour – Ottawa

Explore the rich Indigenous cultural landscapes of Canada’s capital during your stay in Ottawa. From a lively and informative stroll with Indigenous Walks, cultural tours of a traditional village, to immersion in the engaging collections of educational exhibits throughout national museums. Honour the history and present-day experience of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples from across Canada.

Wikwemikong – Manitoulin Island

Wiikwemkoong on Manitoulin Island is Canada’s only officially recognized Unceded Indigenous Reserve and is located on Odawa Mnis (Manitoulin Island) — the ancestral home of the Anishnaabek people of the Three Fires Confederacy (Ojibwe, Odawa, Pottawatomi). You can learn all about the history of Manitoulin Island and of Wiikwemkoong on The Unceded Journey Tour hosted by Wiikwemkoong Tourism. The tour is hosted by the Anishnaabek people, and from your guide, you’ll learn all about the history of the island, as well as some of the rich history of the Anishnaabek people, food, and local lore.

Great Spirit Circle Trail – Manitoulin Island

Take an eco-adventure trip and learn about First Nations culture and traditions thanks to educational interpretive tours and Aboriginal experiences. Set up a teepee, harvest herbs and plants for traditional medicine, hike the hills of your guides’ ancestors as you listen to stories and legends. Paddle in a canoe in the waters of the largest freshwater island in the world, home of Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi peoples.

Huronia Museum – Midland

Huronia Museum is located in Midland and features a replica of a pre-contact Huron/Ouendat village, including a lookout tower, wigwam and a full-size longhouse. The museum also features an exhibit gallery featuring tens of thousands of historic artifacts ranging from photographs, native archaeology, marine heritage of Georgian Bay and art by members of the Group of Seven, and others.

Woodland Cultural Centre Virtual Tour – Brantford

The Woodland Cultural Centre, a museum of excellence, opens the doors to Southern Ontario’s First Nations past, present, and future. School and Public programs offer interested visitors the opportunity to discover Native Ontario. As an alternative to the guided tour, while the Mohawk Institute is undergoing construction and renovations, the centre offers guests a virtual tour. The virtual tour video was created with local production company Thru the Reddoor, and it follows the guide, Lorrie Gallant, as she gives a tour of the former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School. During the video, Lorrie provides the history of the institution over its 140-year history. Viewers will get to see the different rooms in the school, from the girls’ and boys’ dormitories, the cafeteria, laundry room, and other rooms throughout the building, as well as hear interviews from five Survivors of the Mohawk Institute.

Agawa Rock – Wawa

This sacred site sits within Lake Superior Provincial Park. Centuries ago, Ojibway spiritual leaders painted animals and canoes in red ochre and they have remained on the rockface to this day. To find the pictographs and view them face on, hike down a trail that is marked to take you to the Group of Seven lookout. Take a right instead of a left then walk down a steep staircase cut into the rock.

Bon Echo Provincial Park’s Painted Rock

Mazinaw Rock looks over Mazinaw Lake, 100 metres above the water, giving a grand view within Bon Echo Provincial Park. The rock helps produce a great echo – giving the park its name – it also has more than 260 Indigenous pictograms that speak to the history of the painted rock. You can find it via one of the many hiking trails in the park, ranging in length from one to 17 kilometres, or take a 45-minute boat tour with an interpreter. The boat tour is still cancelled during COVID-19.

Petroglyphs Provincial Park – Woodview

The largest known concentration of Indigenous rock carvings in Canada can be found at the Teaching Rocks in this camping area. Here you’ll find images of turtles, snakes and birds and learn about the traditions of the Ojibway and their medicine wheel. Dogs and cameras are not permitted at the petroglyphs site.

Cape Croker Park – Neyaashiinigmiing

Nestled between high limestone bluffs on the eastern shore of Bruce Peninsula, Cape Croker Park has welcomed visitors of all ages since 1967. With 315 campsites, incredible hiking, scenic vistas and waterways, it is the perfect destination for families, couples and explorers seeking a rustic escape into nature. The Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation welcome you to Georgian Bay for Anishnaabe Cultural Experience Programs. You can camp on the grounds as you treat yourself to guided hikes, storytelling, craft making, and wilderness skills programs to share Anishnaabe history and traditional knowledge.

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