With in-person events back in action, ITO proudly took part in the 100th annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) in Toronto. Every year, the RAWF sees approximately 300,000 curious attendees over the course of 10 days, who gather to celebrate and learn about the very best in agriculture, food, and equine sport this country has to offer at the world’s largest indoor event of its kind.

In addition to a booth presence throughout the 10 days of the Fair, Indigenous Tourism Ontario sponsored “ORIGINS Day” which took place on Sunday November 6th; It was a celebration of Indigenous culture through culinary experiences, educational workshops, and cultural performances. Just as the RAWF brings “the country to the city”, introducing farm life to city dwellers who might not otherwise be exposed to it – ITO wanted to provide another opportunity for Indigenous peoples to tell their stories on their terms to a broader audience.

ORIGINS Day attendees were able to participate in six different Indigenous chef-led cooking sessions at the Culinary Academy, as well as two more that occurred the following Monday and Tuesday. Throughout the day there were dance performances from 4 dancers in both traditional and modern urban styles on the OLG Entertainment Stage, sharing their stories through their movements. Over on the Growth Hub Stage, cultural workshops were hosted by Indigenous Experiences where attendees participated in a “Feel the Heartbeat” workshop designed to explore the strong Indigenous connection to “the heartbeat of Mother Earth”.

At the ITO booth, we were joined by member Chef Paul Owl of Treeteas Brewing, handing out samples of his delicious sparkling cedar-based teas, and engaging with everyone who came by to point them towards Indigenous Experience Ontario.

Chi-miigwetch to all who came by with a genuine interest in learning more about Indigenous owned-and-operated businesses in the province and wanted to know how they could support them!

Culinary Sessions

#FEASTIndigenous was on full display through the Burnbrae Farms Culinary Academy sponsored by ITO. Our featured chefs showcased their takes on Indigenous cuisine through live cooking demonstrations to a total of 288 participants. ITO would like to thank the following chefs for their inspiring sessions:

🍽️ Chef Aicha Smith-Belghaba @eshaseats

🍽️ Chef Zach Keeshig @chefzachkeeshig

🍽️ Chef Candace Esquimaux @candace_catering_

🍽️ Chef Douglas Trudeau @4winds_catering

🍽️ Chef Amede Thompson @chefamedethompson

🍽️ Chef Joseph Shawana @joseph.shawana

🍽️ Chef Shawn Adler @powwowcafeto

🍽️ Chef Tawnya Brant @cheftawnyabrant

Chef Douglas Trudeau
Scallops and Succotash
Chef Amede Thompson
Indian Tacos
Chef Candace Esquimaux
Three Sisters Soup with Berry Salad

Performances

During the day, performers hit the two stages at the fair to educate, inspire, and showcase Indigenous Culture to attendees. ITO would like to thank the following performers who captivated the audience through dance (and drew the largest crowds during the entire run of the Fair!):

Kean Buffalo @winterrhawk

Kehew Buffalo @_kehew_

River Waterhen @riverwh_

Albert Plant

Special thank you to the Centre for Indigenous Theatre for assisting in connecting us with the dancers. The Centre for Indigenous Theatre (CIT), is an institution that offers a unique Indigenous cultural, theatrical, and performance training program.
Over on the Growth Hub Stage, Indigenous Experiences’ Mariah Miigwans and Talor Diabo presented the incredible Feel the Heartbeat workshop, where attendees explored the strong Indigenous connection to “the heartbeat of Mother Earth” through their interactive workshop.

Kehew Buffalo
Prairie Chicken Dancer
Talor Diabo & Mariah Miigwans
Indigenous Experiences
Albert Plant
Men’s Fancy Dancer

If you missed our ORIGINS Day this year, don’t worry! We also produced three new culinary videos in partnership with The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. This new season of ORIGINS allows viewers to explore the best Indigenous culinary destinations that Ontario has to offer. Follow along with host, Sarain Fox, as she meets with Indigenous Chefs from across the province to share their stories and showcase their culinary expertise. In this 3-part series, she connects with three talented Chefs cooking up progressive Indigenous dishes, including Chef Zach Keeshig from Owen Sound, Chef Aicha Smith-Belghaba in Six Nations, and Chef Amede Thompson of Thunder Bay.

Thank you for reading this story in The Sharing Circle! If you have any feedback on this blog post, please let us know by emailing us at ewlodek@indigenoustourismontario.ca.