A large crowd gathered in downtown Sarnia to mark the second annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Friday.
“Today we sing and dance and we pray for our future generations,” Erica Lopez, of the Sarnia-Lambton Native Friendship Centre told those gathered at City Hall.
The centre organized a series of events that included a march through Sarnia’s downtown to City Hall, with prayers, guest speakers, drumming, and song.
“The Sarnia-Lambton Native Friendship Centre is the heart of Sarnia for Indigenous People,” said Jordan Williams White-Eye, a Knowledge Keeper and leader of the Anishinaabe Thunderbird Sundance of Ontario. He’s also a cultural support worker at the centre — a non-profit community-based organization offering a variety of services to Urban Indigenous people.
“The love and the bravery, the courage, the commitment… is all there. I’m proud of my organization.”
The federal statutory holiday, Sept. 30, also known as Orange Shirt Day, was created in response to the Truth and Reconciliation’s Call to Action (#80), encouraging Canadians to honour the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.
The City of Sarnia’s UNDRIP Committee (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) also hosted an unveiling of a new Residential Schools Memorial Crosswalk at Front and Lochiel Streets.
It’s the second such crosswalk in the city; last year, the first orange crosswalk was installed at Christina Street and Cathcart Boulevard.
“I see this crosswalk as a reminder to all of us of the work that remains to be done on reconciliation,” said Laura Greaves, chair of the Social Service Network, noting that the second crosswalk was spawned from discussions with the anti-racism sub-committee and the City of Sarnia.
“And I hope that others in the community will as well.”
The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides 24-hour crisis support to former Indian Residential School students and their families toll-free at 1-866-925-4419