Community gathers for crosswalk dedication ceremony (GALLERY)

Councillor Brian White speaking at the dedication ceremony. June 20, 2022. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

The significance of an orange crosswalk in Sarnia is being recognized while a second commemorative crosswalk is expected to soon be unveiled in the downtown core.

The city’s first commemorative crosswalk to honour Indigenous children lost to residential schools was revealed in early June at the intersection of Christina Street North and Cathcart Boulevard.

A dedication ceremony was held on Monday, ahead of National Indigenous Peoples Day. Members of the City of Sarnia, the local Indigenous communities, and the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) gathered in the rain.

Councillor Bill Dennis proposed the motion of a commemorative crosswalk in September 2021.

“To see this, regardless of how long I’m on council, every time I drive by this, I’m going to drive by this with a sense of pride,” said Dennis.

He also said he was a little emotional while listening to M’skwa Giizhig Plain speak during the ceremony.

“I choked up a little bit to hear the gentleman speak and to see this as a reminder — as an act toward reconciliation, to see this is just incredible,” he said.

As residents reflect on National Indigenous Peoples Day, UNDRIP Chair Candace Young said it’s a time to recognize the impact of residential schools but also to celebrate the culture and traditions of Indigenous people. Their teachings are also represented through the crosswalk.

“The seven feathers on the crosswalk represent the Seven Grandfather teachings so that is a way we can be guided through this process of reconciliation which is a path that we all walk together,” said Young.

An exact date for the installation of Sarnia’s second commemorative crosswalk has not been set yet as construction is ongoing in the area. The crosswalk is expected to be installed at Lochiel Street at Front Street North.