Street Signs Connect Modern Day Toronto To Indigenous History
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
What's in a name? Or in this case, what's in a street name? Well, Susan Blight says a lot. She is an artist and activist in Toronto, and she's Anishinaabe, the indigenous nation once stretched along the U.S.-Canada border from North Dakota all the way to Ohio.
SUSAN BLIGHT: We're a very big nation in terms of the land mass which we call our homeland.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
A few years ago, she and her friend, Hayden King, started a project to connect Toronto to its indigenous history. Their target was street signs.
BLIGHT: We began doing these guerrilla interventions, I would say. Sometimes they were stickers. Sometimes it was just a cardboard art piece. And we'd actually place those over top of the official signs.
SHAPIRO: They would translate street names into the Anishinaabe language. So for instance, Queen Street...
BLIGHT: We took queen and made it to ogimaa, which is a leader, and from street to mikana, which is a road or a path, anything that somebody can travel on.
SIEGEL: A business improvement group took notice and reached out to Susan Blight. And this month in a small Toronto neighborhood, Anishinaabe translations went up on the official street signs.
BLIGHT: I like the idea that Anishinaabe people might be walking in the city, they look up and they see their language. I like that it might also inspire non-indigenous people to perhaps form a more meaningful relationship with the indigenous nations whose territory they live and work on.
SHAPIRO: She says it's about knowing where you are and where you're from.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.