Visit to northern Indigenous communities 'incredibly' humbling, says John Tory

Toronto Mayor John Tory will meet with leaders of the city's aboriginal affairs committee Wednesday, to talk about some of what he saw during an informal visit last week to two remote Indigenous communities.

Mayor to meet with city's aboriginal affairs committee to discuss issues facing Toronto's Indigenous community

Mayor John Tory visited two remote Aboriginal communities in northwestern Ontario last week.

Toronto Mayor John Tory will meet with leaders of the city's aboriginal affairs committee Wednesday, to talk about some of what he saw during an informal visit last week to two remote Indigenous communities.

The mayor paid his own way for the four-day visit to communities in northwestern Ontario at Big Trout Lake and and Bearskin Lake — communities so remote they're only accessible by plane.

Several of Ontario's isolated Aboriginal communities have been in the news in recent months for appallingly high suicide rates among young people, crushing poverty and a lack of essentials like clean drinking water.

The mayor told Metro Morning's Matt Galloway on Tuesday that he found the visit "incredibly" humbling, and that he wants to use this experience to help Toronto's 35,000 Aboriginal people, who, he said, make up 30 per cent of the city's homeless population.

'A bit of extra support'

"We have to decide person by person, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, church by church that we're going to do something towards the end of this reconciliation, and maybe it shouldn't be limited to just Indigenous people," Tory said.

"We should be deciding as a community that we want to take an interest in some of these people that historically have been disadvantaged."

The mayor said he wants to speak with leaders of the aboriginal affairs committee about addressing unemployment within the city's Indigenous population, which he said is the cause of the community's disproportionately high rate of homelessness.

"The first thing is to try and get them a job," he said. "Many of them just need a little  bit of extra support to get to the opportunities that a lot of us would take for granted."

The mayor said he made the trip north because he wanted to learn more about what can be done to help Indigenous communities recover from generations of abuse at residential schools.