Mississauga raises Every Child Matters flag, setting precedent for large Canadian cities

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Published February 16, 2022 at 6:48 pm

Content note: The following article discusses abuse suffered at former residential schools.

Mississauga has become the first large municipality in Canada to permanently raise the Every Child Matters flag.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) raised an Indigenous flag during a ceremony on Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 16). The orange flag, which was created to increase sensitivity about the residential school experience, will fly permanently on City Centre Drive at Mississauga Celebration Square.

“We were proud to see the City of Mississauga taking this step to honour the Indigenous children who attended residential schools, and their families,” Laforme said. “I believe this moment in time is a moment in the life of this country that will determine how we move forward. And I hope we all move forward together. We must and never will forget.”

Canadian governments, in parternship with churches, ran residential schools for over 150 years until the last federally-funded school closed in 1997. The ongoing, often-intergenerational harm that the residential school system inflicted on Indigenous children and their families was extensively documented during the seven-year-long Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2008 to ’15.

In the last 12 months, hundreds of unmarked graves have been confirmed to exist at former residential school sites across Canada. Most recently, 54 potential graves of children forced to attend two residential schools on Keeseekoose First Nation land were discovered. Both schools were in Saskatchewan and run by the Catholic church.

Mississauga is on the the treaty lands and territory of of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The city’s land acknowledgement also emphasises being on the territory of the Anishinabek, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples, and on land that is home to the Métis.

“Today was an extremely important day for Mississauga,” Crombie said. “Raising the Every Child Matters flag is a symbol of the City of Mississauga’s commitment to truth and reconciliation. As a community, city and country, we can never forget the horrors that took place at Canadian residential schools and the children that never made it home. We remember and honour them, as well as the survivors, today and always.

“Our work certainly doesn’t end here. Along with my colleagues on Council, I remain more committed than ever to strengthening our relationship with Indigenous neighbours through meaningful action,” she added.

The local government in Mississauga is actively working towards reconciliation by confronting its past and present by:

  • Upholding space for Indigenous peoples as agreed in the Treaties
  • Recognizing and upholding their Treaty Rights
  • Meeting its obligations in their nation-to-nation relationship
  • Supporting all Indigenous Peoples

Over the past few years, the City has made several changes and implemented various enhancements to ensure that all residents, businesses and partners choose to live, work and learn in Mississauga have the same, equitable experience.

These enhancements include the following:

  • Endorsement of a new policy focused on the Use of Indigenous images/themes in city sports facilities.
  • Approval of the recommendations found in the City’s Annual Reconciliation Report and Land Acknowledgement Renewal, which included refreshing the City’s existing Indigenous Land Statement, which was formally adopted in 2017.
  • Adoption of Resolution 0207-2020 to address systemic discrimination and inequities within Mississauga, including accessibility to resources, services and supports for Black and Indigenous residents.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of a residential school experience. Support is available at 1-866-925-4419.

(Photos courtesy of the City of Mississauga.)

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