Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. 

The Town of Pelham is situated on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, many of whom continue to live and work here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum agreement. Today, this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendships of Indigenous peoples.

About National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) ran from 2008 to 2015 and provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of residential schools with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences. The recent discoveries of remains and unmarked graves across Turtle Island have led to increased calls to address the recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action

Call to Action 80: "We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process". 

On June 3rd, 2021, the Canadian federal government enacted legislation which established that each year, on September 30th, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation would be observed. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.

The date of the statutory holiday coincides with Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”. 

As Truth and Reconciliation Day has not been declared a provincial statutory holiday, Town of Pelham facilities and services remain open on September 30th.

Wearing Orange on September 30th

All Town of Pelham residents are encouraged to come together to honour the Indigenous children stolen from their families and forced to attend residential schools by wearing the colour orange on September 30th. The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.

Orange Shirt Day is inspired by the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor. At the age of 6, Phyllis went to the St. Joseph Mission Indian Residential School wearing the bright orange shirt bought by her grandmother. She said she felt "bright and exciting", just like her shirt. But on the first day of school, her new shirt was forcibly taken from her, along with her dignity. This story is one of the many examples of harm that was inflicted upon the self-esteem and well-being of children who were forced to attend residential schools. Today, we acknowledge the denial of the rights and the wrongdoings of the past, and the present-day impacts across generations, including the trauma carried by survivors and their families.

Learning about the impacts that the residential school system has had on generations of Indigenous families, languages and cultures, lies at the heart of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples who attended these schools, their families and communities, and all Canadians.

Learn about this movement, the woman behind it, and her orange shirt story: https://www.orangeshirtday.org/

Town of Pelham staff will be wearing orange t-shirts in support of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.


Flag Raising

The Town of Pelham recognizes the significance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, and as such will have a flag raising ceremony. Please join us on September 29th at Town Hall. 

Where: Pelham Town Hall - 20 Pelham Town Square

When: Friday, September 29th, 2023 at 9:00 AM

What to expect: Members of the community are invited to attend, and those attending are encouraged to wear orange. 

The "Every Child Matters" flag will be raised during this time to celebrate First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures. It is inclusive of all Indigenous communities, and reiterates the importance of bringing awareness to the residential school system.

Flag Details: The flag that will be raised has been smudged with sweetgrass and sage to honour the missing and the survivors of residential schools.
Carol Louie, well known Ktunaxa artist, provided the art for the feather and ideas for the design. Robert Louie (Ktunaxa) and Denice Louie (Athabascan) completed the design work in collaboration with their summer youth worker, Gabe Kobasiuk (Cree). Robert Louie is a residential school survivor. Most of his siblings also went to residential school.
"The heart with the broken lines was used to show how the residential school affected our people, our connections, our teachings. Though fractured, the hearts of our people continue and remain strong. And in all of our hearts, at the center of our communities are the little ones, our future - represented by the child's hand. The eagle feather honours and recognizes all the children who were forced into residential school."

Moccasin Identifier Project 

Join the Town of Pelham and the Lincoln Pelham Public Library to learn more about Indigenous history through the Moccasin Identifier Project! This project was created by Carolyn King in partnership with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Greenbelt Foundation to promote public awareness of significant cultural historic sites and the ancestral presence of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples across Turtle Island.

The moccasin stencils were designed by Phillip Cote, based on moccasins held in the private collection of the Bata Shoe Museum. The four styles of moccasins reflect the four linguistic groups in Ontario:   

  • Cree – mainly located in Northern Ontario  
  • Anishinaabe – throughout much of Ontario  
  • Huron - Wendat to the East  
  • Seneca - from New York State into Southwestern Ontario through Niagara  

Where: Peace Park - 20 Pelham Town Square 

When: Friday, September 29 following the Flag Raising Ceremony 

StoryWalk®: Phyllis's Orange Shirt

Visit Peace Park at 20 Pelham Town Square for a self-guided StoryWalk® of Phyllis's Orange Shirt written by Phyllis Webstad.

The StoryWalk® will be in Peace Park from Monday September 25 - Friday September 29. 

Drumming with Josephine Lavalley 

Join us for an interactive drumming workshop and presentation with Josephine Lavalley, Onondaga from Six Nations. 

Josephine is a yoga teacher, qigong instructor, reiki master, & Indigenous drummer! The presentation will include a water ceremony with moon water, smudging, drumming, singing, and lots of interactive learning! 

Where: Meridian Community Centre (Courtyard) - 100 Meridian Way

When: Friday, September 29, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM 

Performance by the Strong Water Singers

Enjoy a performance by the award-winning Strong Water Singers, an Indigenous collective of drummers from across the Niagara region.

 Meridian Community Centre Atrium- 100 Meridian Way

When: Friday, September 29, 1:00 PM 

Understanding Real-Conciliation Seminar with Nokomis Migizinz Cindilee 

Join us for an in-person seminar with Nokomis Migizinz Cindilee from 4 Winds All My Relations.  

Nokomis Migizinz Cindilee (Anishinaabe) is a Physical Grandmother and a Spiritual Grandmother Women Bundle Carrier. She actively works and engages in various capacities of traditional knowledge sharing in Halton, Hamilton and Niagara. Since 2007, her work has been in education working in elementary, secondary, and post secondary as an instructor, educator, academic coach, and cultural liaison- sharing teachings and history.  

Where: Meridian Community Centre (Accursi Room) - 100 Meridian Way

When: Friday, September 29, 2:30 - 3:30 PM 

Tea Tasting and Book Talk with Nichole L'Hirondelle 

Join us for an interactive Indigenous tea tasting and talk with Nichole L'Hirondelle, owner of the Barn Swallow Tea & Book Shop. Nichole will be speaking about her family history with the Residential School System as well as how residential schooling has affected their nation. 

Where: Meridian Community Centre (Accursi Room) - 100 Meridian Way
When: Friday, September 29, 6:30 - 7:30 PM 


Listen, Learn, Act

The Town of Pelham encourages residents to learn more about Indigenous communities with the following resources.




Truth and Reconciliation Resources

The Canadian Government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008. Its primary purpose is to document the history and impacts of the Canadian Residential School System. Truth and Reconciliation reveals the long and painful history behind Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.

For more information about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, please visit the following:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action  

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation 

Residential Schools Awareness & Resources

Learn more about residential schools in Canada through the following resources:

Indian Residential Schools

Residential Schools in Canada: A Timeline

Legacy of Hope – Residential School Survivors

Canada’s Residential Schools – Google Earth

National Residential School 24 Hour Crisis Line

A National Residential School Crisis Line has also been set up to provide support to former students.

This 24-Hour Crisis Line can be accessed at: 1-866-925-4419.

Indigenous Organizations in Niagara 

Learn about the different Indigenous organizations in Niagara and check out the programs and services they offer. You can also sign up for their newsletters and attend local events.

Niagara Regional Native Centre (NRNC) 

Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre (FENFC) 

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO)

Niagara Chapter - Native Women (NCNW) 

Niagara Region Métis Council

Indigenous Youth Employment Training (NPAAMB) 

Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle (IDHC) 

De Dwa Da Dehs Nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre is based in Hamilton, but is increasing its outreach services in Niagara

Indigenous Health Network is part of the HNHB LHIN working with health and social service providers to address the health needs and issues of local Indigenous communities

Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre: Docuseries Indigenous Perspectives

The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre produced a docu-series highlighting Indigenous history in Niagara. 

Watch the series here

  • Part 1: focuses on how life was before contact with settlers and the Indigenous contributions to the War of 1812
  • Part 2: looks at the tragedies of the residential school system, the 60's Scoop, and the Millennial Scoop, and their impacts on Indigenous peoples and communities in the present
  • Part 3: discusses racism in Canada today and how the community is healing with all the trauma they have experienced
Indigenous Canada - University of Alberta
Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores the different histories and contemporary perspectives of Indigenous peoples living in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores complex experiences Indigenous peoples face today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Indigenous Canada is for students from faculties outside the Faculty of Native Studies with an interest in acquiring a basic familiarity with Indigenous / non-Indigenous relationships. Learn more here
Native Land: Whose Land Do You Live On ?
Find out and learn about whose traditional territory you live on by visiting https://native-land.ca/. Learn more about the original caretakers of the land you now inhabit, their history, and the current issues that affect their communities. 
GeoViewer: Who Are Your Neighbours ?
Interact with this virtual map and discover the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples who may live around you.

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