Theo Nazary

Restoration of Identity

Residential Schools in Canada were implemented under the Indian Act allowing the federal government to establish religious-based and industrial schools to assimilate Indigenous youth. Children as young as 3 years old were removed from their home communities, isolated from their parents, separated from siblings, and forced to learn foreign languages and cultures. The “Restoration of Identity” commits to cultural revitalization through Indigenous place-making. The project will build a commemorative sculpture to honour Residential School Survivors, their families and those affected inter-generationally. The sculpture will take the shape of snapping turtle climbing over a boulder containing the names of the 13 residential schools in Ontario, symbolizing their strength, resiliency and overcoming. The sculpture will be part of a Teaching, Learning, Sharing & Healing (TLSH) space on Nathan Phillips Square – Toronto’s largest and busiest civic square and the grounds of City Hall. The placement of the sculpture and site will become an area for teaching and reflection, while reminding the settler society their commitment towards Truth & Reconciliation.


Theo Nazary is a PhD Candidate in Public Policy at Ryerson University and a Strategist & Planner at Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. He has published widely on Settler-Canadian relations, Canadian public policy, and the interaction between newcomers & Indigenous peoples in settler-colonial societies. At Council Fire, Theo is responsible for providing advice and strategy on successful implementation of the Restoration of Identity project.