Memorial walk for residential school survivors returning to Alder

September 22, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

A memorial walk for victims of Indian Residential Schools is returning to Orangeville on Oct. 1.

The walk starts at 1 p.m. next Saturday (Oct. 1) and is being held by the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle (DCCRC), in conjunction with Orange Shirt Day, which takes place Sept. 30. The walk will start at the main doors of the Alder Street Recreation Centre and end at the medicine wheel garden, abutting the Alder playing fields.

Once at the garden, there will be an opportunity to share, reflect, silently pray, and smudge for anyone wishing to participate.

All are invited to attend and honour those who survived residential school as well as the children who never made it home.

“I think it’s important that we remember those lives,” said Tiffany Smith, DCCRC member who is Indigenous. “When you hear the stories of the residential school survivors and the torture that some of them went through, it’s amazing that they’re even here with us today to tell the story of just what happened to them.”

Last year’s memorial walk held by the DCCRC saw record attendance, as it came a couple months after the initial discovery of 215 unmarked graves near a former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Since then, thousands of other unmarked graves have been found at sites near residential schools across Canada, bringing further awareness to the issue.

Smith said she hopes this year’s memorial walk builds on the momentum of last year and grows even larger.

She told the Citizen having the walk end at the medicine wheel garden, which is a healing centre, is very fitting. When walkers arrive at the garden, there’s an opportunity for them to share stories, listen and reflect.

Smith also stressed the importance of remembering and honouring residential school survivors with events for Orange Shirt Day. Without it, there’d be less awareness around the dark legacy of Indian Residential School and less conversations between Canadians, Smith said.

Debbie Egerton, DCCRC chair, said as allies of the Indigenous community, it’s important for people to recognize the traumas that Indigenous peoples have endured through the Indian Residential School system.

“When I see when anything that happens with kids, I automatically, as a parent, go back to the fact that it could have been my kid. That could have been my kid that disappeared, and nobody told me what happened to them – I would go insane,” said Egerton.

She told the Citizen, she’d encourage everyone to wear an orange shirt for the memorial walk as a sign of support.

“Wearing the orange shirt is just one little step in acknowledging these kids that never made it home, through no fault of their own,” Egerton said.

Looking ahead, the DCCRC is hoping to start a centre if it is successful with grant funding.

Egerton said the DCCRC is developing a 10-year business plan for the facility and grants are currently being written to secure necessary funding to get the project off the ground.

Other news with the organization is that it is starting a Youth Climate Activation Circle as well as online workshops.

The first workshop is being offered by the Vision Question Project Giidwin, with a focus on beading. Attendees are learning how to make an Abanaku bow loom and beaded earrings. Anyone interested in participating in future workshops can reach out to 

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