Halton Region is working to provide education, programming and training to grow our understanding of the history of the Residential School system to appropriately honour the survivors, victims, and families of the Residential School System and offer remembrance for the Indigenous children who lost their lives.
Commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30
September 30, 2023, marks Canada's third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day for all Canadians to reflect on the history and legacy of the Residential School system, remember the victims and survivors, and honour the strength and resilience demonstrated by Indigenous Peoples and Communities across Canada.
Across Canada, there were 140 federally run Residential Schools that operated between 1867 to as recently as 1996. Residential schools were attended by over 150,000 children – many of whom were taken from their families and forced to endure horrific conditions. At least 10,000 children died while attending Residential Schools and the graves of many students are still unknown. Across the country, many communities and organizations honour the day by hosting events and memorials for survivors, families, and children who never made it home.
Every year, the flags at Regional facilities in Halton are lowered to half-mast, including the ‘Every Child Matters’ flag in honour of all the survivors and communities impacted by Residential Schools and the children who did not make it home. Staff are also encouraged to wear orange shirts on September 29 and 30 to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and Communities.
Truth and Reconciliation Day – Calls to Action
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in 2008 to document a historical record of the Canadian Residential School System. Members of the TRC travelled the country, hearing the stories of over 6,500 witnesses who provided their personal knowledge and information about the residential school system. In 2015, the TRC released its final report, including 94 Calls to Action calling upon Canadian governments, businesses, and citizens to advance the goals of Truth and Reconciliation.
On June 3, 2021, the Federal Government declared September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day is not only a commemoration but also represents decades of Indigenous resiliency and advocacy and calls for concrete action to take place to reconcile with the wrongdoings of the past.
Orange Shirt Day
September 30 is marked as Orange Shirt Day because it is historically known as the time of year when children were taken from their homes to attend Residential Schools. The date also coincides with the beginning of the school year, where important conversations about anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion can take place with youth and educators across the country.
Orange Shirt Day originated from the story of Phyllis Webstad (YouTube video), a Northern Secwepemc Shuswap from Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. On her first day of Residential School the orange shirt she was wearing, a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her. Wearing orange is a symbol acknowledging how the culture, freedom and self-esteem of Indigenous children were stripped away for generations.
Relationship Agreement with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation
On June 20, 2022, Halton Region and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) signed a Relationship Agreement, formalizing the ongoing work to build a constructive, collaborative and mutually respectful relationship. The Relationship Agreement was signed at Halton Regional Centre by Regional Chair Gary Carr and Ogimaa R. Stacey Laforme from the MCFN. Elders from the MCFN were also in attendance.
Halton Regional Council endorsed the Relationship Agreement at the June 15 meeting. The Relationship Agreement will help Halton Region and MCFN in working to achieve the shared objectives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) (external link) final report and Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) (external link). It will also be helpful in identifying areas of mutual concern and interest, as well as establishing and supporting shared understanding and ongoing conversations. MCFN has met numerous times with staff from various departments to share their history, culture and heritage. This has proven to be an important form of knowledge exchange that helps to increase cultural knowledge and understanding in the Regions’ journey of relationship building.
Watch the full Relationship Agreement Signing Ceremony on June 20, 2022 at Halton Regional Centre
National Alert System
In May of 2023, the House of Commons agreed to implement a National Alert System for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Indigenous women are crucial contributors to Indigenous culture, maintaining roles as healers, knowledge keepers, elders, caregivers, parents and more. Targeted violence towards Indigenous women not only impacts victims and their loved ones, but also entire communities.
National Indigenous History Month 2023
Each June, we celebrate National Indigenous History Month to celebrate and honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast and across Turtle Island (now known as North America). National Indigenous History Month was created in 2009 in the House of Commons to highlight the achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples throughout Canada. This month celebrates Indigenous culture, recognizes the contributions made by Indigenous Peoples, and acknowledges the acts of revitalization and resurgence that are happening within Indigenous Communities. As illustrated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report, celebrating Indigenous achievement is an important piece in Reconciliation.
Indigenous Cultural Celebrations
On June 21, the summer solstice, we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, a chance to learn about the heritage, cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
The Strawberry Solstice is also celebrated in June by many First Nations when the first strawberries are ready to be picked. Oneida Peoples view the first strawberry of the season as a gift from the Creator. In many Anishinaabe Nations the strawberry shares a deep connection to mind, body and spirit, while the seeds on the outside are used to teach about vulnerability. In both Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe cultures the strawberry is also viewed as a traditional medicine, and all parts of the strawberry are used in the making of different foods and drinks.
In celebration of National Indigenous History Month, explore resources to learn more about Indigenous history by:
You can also join the conversation online by using the hashtag #NIHM2023.
About Halton’s work to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous People and Communities
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and Calls to Action, the Region has taken steps to advance Reconciliation and Indigenous Relationship building. This work focuses on enhancing cultural competency and knowledge with Regional staff about the Indigenous narrative, history and heritage as well as education on Indigenous groups and organizations around Halton. It also emphasizes the importance of building and fostering reciprocal relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit People and Communities around Halton and Urban Indigenous leaders in the community.
On June 16, 2021, Halton Regional Council endorsed the following items:
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement
Halton’s Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement was created in partnership with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, who are the original Treaty and title holders of the territory in which Halton Region resides. The Land Acknowledgement is as follows:
Boozhoo, She:kon , Tanshi, Greetings!
Halton Region acknowledges the Treaty Lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation as well as the Traditional Territory of the Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek on which we gather.
In stewardship with Mother Earth and the enduring Indigenous presence connected to these lands we acknowledge the Indigenous Nations of the past, present and future.
In the spirit of ally-ship and mutual respect, we will take the path of Truth and Reconciliation to create change, awareness and equity as we strive to elevate the collective consciousness of society.
Miigwetch, Nia:wen, Marsi, Thank you
Indigenous Communities around Halton
There are no specific First Nation communities located within the boundaries of Halton; however, there are Indigenous Communities around Halton, including:
COVID-19 Indigenous Elder Advisory Group
The COVID-19 Indigenous Elder Advisory Group was established by the Region to inform vaccine planning for Indigenous Peoples living in Halton Region. Members of the COVID-19 Indigenous Elder Advisory Group provide valuable feedback, input and advice on COVID-19 vaccine clinic models and approaches, identify other health and COVID-19 related issues important to Indigenous Peoples living in Halton.
The membership of the COVID-19 Indigenous Elder Advisory Group includes representatives and attendees from the following Indigenous Communities and Organizations:
- Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation;
- Six Nations of the Grand River;
- Credit River Métis Council;
- Grand River Métis Council;
- Tungasuvvingat Inuit;
- Native Men’s Residence, Toronto; and
- other local Indigenous Leaders.
The Region will continue to use this Advisory Group Model moving forward to seek guidance and input from Indigenous People and Communities.