I pulled into Toronto last night around 9:30. I was a little bit worried about getting to my hostel — being in a new city late at night and all. It turned out to be an easy 15 minute walk — and I was able to adjust the settings on my phone so google maps could direct me in Canada. It was raining hard, and as I walked I realized that my combat boots had recently sprung many leaks. By the time I made it to the hostel, my socks that had previously smelled like a six hour bus ride now smelled like a different beast entirely. But c’est la vie, they were the only socks I had brought, and I was here for the weekend.
Arriving at the hostel I signed up for HI Hosteling International Membership. There are over 4,000 locations all over the world with HI hostels. Signing up for their membership (which I should have done long ago based on the amount of hostels I’ve slept in) gets you a 10% discount every night, and 25% discount on Canadian greyhound buses- still have to check on American greyhounds).
I then went downstairs to the hostel bar, which was complete with a grunge/punk atmosphere of chipped paint walls and grey installation showing all over ceiling. I bought two different Canadian beers, listened to some live music, and then called it a night.
The next morning I woke up to hail against my window- middle of April. How do you do it, Northerners? I realize now the utility of an umbrella. I don’t think I’ve ever needed one in my life until I moved to the Northeast. Maybe I could have used one in England- but I think I relished the wet feet at that point in my life, and it just wasn’t as soul-killingly cold.
I walked down to breakfast which was served in the bar- and got a complimentary “backpackers” breakfast complete with beans, eggs, potatoes, fruit and toast. The man in front of me didn’t have his hostel coupon, so he had to pay- but kept trying to use American money. The servers snickered at him as he walked away, flustered. That must be the only way that Canadians can deal with Americans- laughter.
I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in one of my favorite comforts- the international LavAzza cafe, hoping that I might run into Naomi Klein. The barista at the cafe was so stereotypically Canadian with the whole “sorry, sorry.” It made me feel at home, and made me feel like I was back in the Midwest again with the almost self deprecating service toward others.
Sitting and staring out the great big window at the rain and the umbrellas and the pained look on the cold people’s faces- puts it all in perspective. What is life if not to try?
After doing a little bit of research into local social justice movements around the area, I found out that the Soaring Eagle Camp at “Tkaronto’s old city hall” is having a pow wow tomorrow after I leave the city. The camp was set up, like many camps around Turtle Island recently, calling for change to the injustices against Indigenous peoples. I decided to check out the camp today, during an ice storm, since I won’t be here tomorrow.
“This movement has been sparked by not only the non-guilty verdicts of Tina Fontaine’s, and Colten Boushie’s murderers, but by the ongoing injustices we Indigenous peoples face in this country.
After watching and paying close attention to these camps, a couple of Youth have organized and are outside of Old City Hall in Tkaronto with their own ‘Soaring Eagle’s Camp’. This occupation is up and running as of Sunday March 4th at 2pm. We are joining efforts by holding vigil in honour of Tina Fontaine, Colten Boushie, all of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous 2 Spirit/ LGBTQ+ People, Women, Children, and Men, and all of the Indigenous First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people suffering from the ongoing horrors of the colonial system, including but not limited to those who have been harmed by the ‘Justice’ and Child ‘Welfare’ Systems. We will be in search of a joint community effort to make this possible. Calling all protectors for visits and to take shifts, and to help our main organizers stay safe. Stay tuned for ways to donate time, materials, and funds to sustain this camp,” Soaring Eagle Camp, Tkaronto
“We are conducting ceremony as Indigenous peoples with respect to our rights to conduct Spiritual Practices recognized under the Ontario Human Rights commision on these lands called Tkaronto or colonially known as Toronto
We are able to complete this ceremony under our Constitutional Status in which recognizes that we have the the rights to exercise practice, custom and/or tradition that is integral to our distinctive culture as Indigenous peoples of this land under 35.1 of the constitution with respect to the rightful jurisdiction of the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe as the original caretakers of this land in partnership with the Mississaugas of the New Credit
We are exercising our right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to take up peaceful assembly on these public lands to bring light to the ongoing genocide/ injustice towards Indigenous people and youth like Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie” -Soaring Eagle Camp, Tkaronto
Participation Agreements for Soaring Eagle Camp:
1) I recognize that this project is in first and foremost a place of Indigenous spirit, culture and title and will be given the respect of sacred ceremony
2) I will respect and listen to Haudenosaunee jurisdiction on their unceded territory
3) I will not bring weapons of any kind. Violence of any kind will not be tolerated
4) I will not cause any destruction to the land, water, property, or people
5) I will not bring alcohol and/or drugs of any kind
6) I will respect all people in this space, and create safe and equal space for all Women, Children, 2 Spirit/ LGBTQ+ People(s), and Men in regards to their gender and sexuality. Harassment will not be tolerated.
7) If I fail to abide by Indigenous protocol, or disrespect Elders and/or members of the community I may be required to leave the Sacred Space and asked to seek further council on my behaviours in my own time
CONTACT US GMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER @SECTkaronto INSTAGRAM soaringeaglescamp
After walking around a bit more, I got lunch at a Mediterranean place that served food in abundance for a great price.
Posted up at a corner bar with wifi, charging my phone, writing, watching it snow/ hail outside while people continue to populate the streets in the ice storm.
Drinking an Amsterdam beer at a corner bar and hunkering down til reunion at an Ethiopian restaurant with my old friend who I met during our study abroad year in Leicester, England. I have not seen anyone from that year since I left England in 2012. This is kind of a huge deal!