Blue Met festival launches Indigenous walking tour of Montreal

The Blue Metropolis literary festival is set to mark its 25th anniversary by showing the world how Montreal looks through the eyes of Indigenous writers who have chosen to make the city their home with a new walking tour of Montreal and the neighbourhoods highlighted within it.

The Tio’tia:ke/Montreal Walking Tour is a multimedia exhibition that highlights some of the neighbourhoods the featured writers call home, with podcasts, written text and author photos – and they can all be found at the Blue Metropolis’ homepage at

A Blue Metropolis statement said the walking tour is a good way to understand how colonial policies have had an effect on Montreal and the Indigenous communities from whom the land was taken.

‘Tio’tia:ke, meaning “where the rivers meet” in Mohawk, has had many names, been a gathering place for many First Nations, and is now a point of confluence for Indigenous people and many other peoples alike,’ the statement says. ‘And yet, the history of Tio’tia:ke/Montreal most of us know is a white settler story—an often selective, sometimes doctored, at best incomplete account. In Tio’tia:ke/Montreal, Indigenous and settler of colour authors, members of communities underrepresented by the telling of that story, begin to contribute necessary perspectives, personal records, and missing chapters to the history of the place they’ve called home.’

Four authors are featured: David Bradford, Tara McGowan-Ross, Symon Henry and Cason Sharpe.

McGowan-Ross’ piece, for instance, discusses the intersectionality of cultures that resulted in the construction of the Decarie Expressway in her Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood.

‘I am a member of the Millbrook Mi’kmaq First Nation, an Indian in Notre-Dame-de-Grace: a third layer in a nesting doll of marginalization,’ she writes. ‘My father was born in Anjou, my mother in this same community, near St Joseph’s Oratory on Queen Mary Road, but I was born in Toronto. I chose to live in Montreal. I chose it with my whole heart, ten years ago, and I continue to do so. Running under us is the Decarie expressway. It was built in the 1950s, construction which forced the displacement of two hundred and eighty-five families. They were not the first to be displaced: first were the trees, a huge forest which stood here four hundred years ago. Then the access rights of the Kanien’kehá:ka and Anishinaabe, and then the Europeans who came after. The first Europeans in this area were granted title, by marauder-explorer-magistrates, by power granted by a distant king, by way of a foreign God, eight years after a group of starving seafarers first founded the settlement of Fort Ville-Marie on the south shore of our River,’ she writes in her homage to the part of Montreal that straddles N.D.G. and Westmount.

The Tio’tia:ke/Montreal Walking Tour is part of the Blue Metropolis literary festival’s 25th-anniversary programming. The full list of events for this year’s festival will be released next Wednesday. For more information, visit

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase