Katarokwi market is vital for Kingston’s culture

Kingston showcases Indigenous art and culture

Image by: Asbah Ahmad

There is no cultural centre, no friendship centre, nor a continuously running exhibit dedicated to sharing Indigenous art and culture on a weekly basis in Ontario. The Katarokwi Indigenous Art and Food Market changes this.

Every Sunday from June 4 to Sept. 24, the Katarokwi Indigenous Art and Food Market runs in Springer Market Square, celebrating and sharing Indigenous art and culture with the Kingston community.

Georgina Riel, the owner, and CEO of RIEL Cultural Consulting coordinated this market with the aid of Tourism Kingston and the City of Kingston. The market runs in the month of June as it’s National Indigenous People’s month.

“Indigenous people within the city of Kingston, [have] limited resources. There’s limited cultural resources for engagement. Having this market is very communal base. It is important for a community perspective to have that presence,” Riel said.

Riel’s involvement in the Kingston community is no surprise as she is the former director of Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre.

According to Riel the market is dedicated to showcasing Indigenous people to Kingston and Ontario as a whole. A variety of Indigenous culture is presented through food, artists, and artisans’ works—such as jewelry, musicians, authors, and carvers.

This market is important because there’s nothing like it, Riel said. This market is the only one in Ontario.

The market offers a space where the community can engage with Indigenous
culture—whether that be simply attending the market and experiencing the atmosphere, or directly engaging with the artists and artisans.

“The people who are there, the artists, the artisans, they want to engage in conversation. They want you to learn, they want you to know about their nation, what they do, how they came to be,” Riel said.

Riel believes the richness of a city is derived from its visible culture. The market showcases a multitude of Indigenous nations’ culture and art.

According to her, it’s important to continue celebrating Indigenous culture, but in Kingston specifically, as the City’s waterways were welcome in many nations to travel.

“Trust me every year, we’re going to keep coming back. And every year it just keeps getting bigger and the importance of it is the viability. Culture is essential in Kingston. When we stop supporting culture, that is a city that dies.”


Culture, Indigenous, market square

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