Truth and Reconciliation

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

With the aim of educating our community and acknowledging the many land treaties that overlay the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara Region, we acknowledge and thank the Indigenous peoples who were stewards of this land for a millennia before us. 

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Government of Canada “responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action # 80 by creating a day of observation called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which seeks to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis Survivors, their families, and communities, and to ensure that public commemoration of their history and the legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.” 

Canada’s federal government enacted legislation on June 3rd, 2021, that establish that each year, on September 30th, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation would be observed. National Truth & Reconciliation Day coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots movement in recognition of Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor.

On September 30th, the City of Niagara Falls and our employees will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation through education and reflection and will participate in Residential School Remembrance through Orange Shirt Day.

To mark the day:

  • The Every Child Matters Flag will be raised and then lowered to half-staff on September 30th at 9:00am in Rosberg Park (across from City Hall) to recognize Truth and Reconciliation Day, and to commemorate the legacy of the residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities.  The ceremony will begin with a Land Acknowledgement, traditional drumming, and will include a moment of silence.  Indigenous community members, City Council, and Mayor Jim Diodati will be participating.

  • The City of Niagara Falls is encouraging staff and the public to attend Indigenous-led events. A free shuttle will take interested staff to “Beyond the Orange Shirt Story,” at the Niagara Parks Power Station Plaza. Honouring the 150,000 children and their families impacted by Indian Residential Schools, Phyllis Webstad will share the origins of Orange Shirt Day and inspire us to collectively move towards cultural understanding and reconciliation marked by this national observation.

  • Education and training will be provided to all City staff on Truth and Reconciliation, by Mr. Brian Kon, Senator for the Niagara Regional Metis Council, and Fire Keeper within the Indigenous Community.

Niagara Falls History Museum Presentation

Indigenous Identity and Connections to Place with Rick Hill, presented by the Niagara Falls History Museum

Indigenous Identity and Connections to Place with Rick Hill

Date: September 30, 2022 Time:  11:00 am to 12:00 pm  
Admission: Free but online registration is required.
Place: Virtual Zoom presentation with Q&A

In honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Rick Hill will host a conversation looking at the recent visit of Pope Francis to issue formal apologies for the harm done at Catholic-run residential schools, and how this has become an important step in the personal and collective recovery and sense of connection to an Indigenous place. The residential school survivors and their descendants, the victims of the 60's Scoop and children who grew up away from their home community, are trying to rebuild their Indigenous identity and sense of self. Colonization has damaged Indigenous identity, connection to place and cultural continuity. Yet, Indigenous resilience and strength is shining through, and we will examine the current social cultural and educational movements to bring back what was nearly lost.

Richard Hill is a Tuscarora Citizen of the Haudenosaunee, a Confederation of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora Nations. He has been responsible for recovery of wampum belts from museums and historical societies, uncovering the history they carry, and sharing these teachings so that the lessons of history are not forgotten. Hill has worked for the National Museum of the American Indian, the State University of New York at Buffalo, Six Nations Polytechnic and now is the Indigenous Innovations Specialist at Mohawk College, Hamilton, ON.

For details visit niagarafallsmuseums.ca

Empathic Traditions - Niagara's Indigenous Legacy  

The Niagara Region was a place of awe and wonder for the Indigenous peoples who first walked this land. Their ancestors' footsteps arrived approximately 13,000 years ago as the melting glaciers retreated northward, revealing the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario and the mighty Niagara River while giving genesis to an environment rich with life.

In this exhibition, Empathic Traditions: Niagara's Indigenous Legacy, objects selected from the Indigenous collections of the Niagara Falls History Museum reveal the presence of Indigenous peoples, their art and history in the region, extending back hundreds of generations up to the present day. Vivid imagery of the artifacts combined with interpretive information help us understand what life was like for those who first arrived.

By examining projectile points, stone tools, pottery shards, jewelry, and other ancient creations, as well as historic and contemporary items, we learn about the cultural connections Indigenous peoples developed with nature and their relationships with Europeans. We learn how the necessity of survival required the design of useful tools, how function influenced form, and how form created objects of great beauty. If nature is aesthetically pleasing and inspirational, then Niagara Falls must be considered a muse of epic proportion. From the first human encounter with the mighty cataracts, artful interpretation ensued.

Learn more at https://empathictraditions.ca/

City of Niagara Falls Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee Resources

Visit committee page to learn more.

Truth and Reconciliation Resources


Residential School Recognition

September 30th - Every Child Matters Orange Shirt Day

September 30th is Orange Shirt Day, a time when Canadians across the country will be wearing orange to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of residential schools, and to honour the thousands of survivors.  

Orange Shirt Day was 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 it 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.

City of Niagara Falls residents are encouraged to come together in a spirit of reconciliation and hope to honour the Indigenous children stolen from their families and forced to attend these residential schools, by wearing the colour orange on September 30.

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


Opportunities to Donate

The Legacy of Hope Foundation

This foundation is an Indigenous-led charity that works to educate and raise awareness about the history and ongoing impacts of the residential school system. Part of the LHF's goals are to provide needed resources for schools and to prevent the spread of misinformation. Donate to the Legacy of Hope Foundation.

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund

This fund continues Gord Downie's commitment to improving the lives of First Peoples in Canada. The fund works to build awareness, and education on the true history of Indigenous people in Canada, the history of Residential Schools, and encourages reconciliation through events and programming.  Donate to the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund.

The Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS)

The IRSSS is an organization out of British Columbia that provides essential services to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas. Donate to the IRSSS.

Residential Schools Awareness & Resources:

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.


Events and Resources

Drums Across Niagara

Date: September 28, 2022 Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Oakes Garden Theatre, Niagara Falls, Canada and Niagara Falls Observation Tower, Niagara Falls, NY

Join drummers and singers as voices carry across the great Niagara River. There will be a special tribute to Grandmother Lena Jack (Phyllis Webstad’s grandmother, 1918-2019)

For details, please visit: celebrationofnations.ca

Niagara Parks Truth & Reconciliation Events

TREATY: A Reconciliation Revelry

Date: September 29, 2022 Time: 6:00 pm Place: Niagara Parks Power Station Plaza – Stage

Join Niagara Parks outside the Niagara Parks Power Station for this captivating concert that will provide audiences with historical context for understanding Indigenous experiences and Indigenous realities today.
For details, visit niagaraparks.com/treaty

Day of Truth & Reconciliation Events
Date: September 30, 2022


Sunrise Ceremony

Time: 7:00 am Place: Niagara Parks Power Station Plaza – Stage

 A traditional sunrise ceremony will take place at 7:13 am, led by Grandmother Jackie Labonte and the lighting of a ceremonial fire by Dave Labbe.

Beyond the Orange Shirt Story

Time: 10:00 am Place: Niagara Parks Power Station Plaza – Stage

Honouring the 150,000 children and their families impacted by Indian Residential Schools, this event will share the origins of Orange Shirt Day by Phyllis Webstad and inspire us to collectively move towards cultural understanding and reconciliation marked by this national observation.

Falls Illumination & Fireworks

Time: 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm Place: Queen Victoria Park

Niagara Falls will turn orange hourly for 15-minutes, to mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. A fireworks display will take place at 10 p.m., featuring a special orange finale. Niagara Region Native Center’s Powwow Drummers and Singers will perform throughout the evening.

Every Child Matters Locomotive

Time: Ongoing Place: Portage Road

Guests are invited to take a short trip to the top of the nearby Falls Incline Railway to see the Every Child Matters Locomotive, featuring a special livery proposed by 13-year-old Indigenous youth Jacob Hoffer.

For more information, please visit: niagaraparks.com

Niagara Regional Native Centre


Niagara Regional Native Centre 8th Annual Traditional Powwow

Date: October 1, 2022 Time: 11:00 am and 6:00 pm
Place: Meridian Centre, St Catharines

An event dedicated to honouring all Survivors. Admission is free.

For more information, please visit: meridiancentre.com

Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre - Indigenous History Docuseries

The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre produced a docuseries highlighting Indigenous history in Niagara.

  • 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

Local Indigenous organization websites

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.