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Maanjiwe Nendamowinan (The Gathering of Minds): Connecting Indigenous placemakers and caring for place through co-creative research with the Toronto Islands

Nicole Latulippe, Biddy Livesey, Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Cathie Jamieson, Jym Clark, Rebecca (Becky) Kiddle

2023 Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand

Connecting Indigenous Placemakers was a week-long practitioners’ retreat and public symposium held on Menecing, the Toronto Island (Treaty 13a). The collaborative project was supported by the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN), Ngā Aho Māori Designers’ Network, and other institutional partners. Based on the success in Aotearoa New Zealand of supporting Indigenous placemaking practitioners and shaping opportunities through a network, the 2019 gathering created a supportive space for Indigenous creatives to be on the land, work on collective and individual projects, build relationship with one another, share knowledge and shape broader discourse on Indigenous placemaking in Toronto. As retreat participants integrated the teachings of Menecing, the Treaty Lands and Territory of the MCFN and a gathering place of many nations, the group began referring to the project as Maanjiwe Nendamowinan, the Gathering of Minds. This co-creative experience made clear the primacy of Place. That is, ‘we don’t make place – Place makes us’. Grounded in Menecing, and in dialogue with many voices, we demonstrate the more-than-ontological significance of Indigenous conceptualizations of and relational practices in (uppercase-P) Place, an entity with a specific identity. We conclude with key considerations that keep Place and placekeeping at the heart of research: respect for the sacred, living well with all our relations, relationship with the peoples of Place, and rethinking research.

Indigenous placemaking, placekeeping, Indigenous research, Toronto Islands, Māori Design, sacred