Community invited to participate Sept. 30 in Niagara Falls
Seneca Gaming Corp. will have its third annual “Every Child Matters” walk in downtown Niagara Falls on Saturday, Sept. 30, joining communities across the U.S. and Canada in “a growing effort to bring understanding, awareness and healing to the abuse faced by generations of Indigenous children at residential schools that operated across both countries.”
A press release stated, “Beginning in the 1800s and lasting well into the 1990s, tens of thousands of Native American children were forced to attend residential schools across the United States and Canada, including the Thomas Indian School, which operated on the Seneca Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory in Irving from 1855-1956. Children at the schools were systematically stripped of their names, traditional language and culture, and were often the victims of physical abuse. Thousands of children are known to have died at the residential schools. It is believed that the deaths of hundreds – if not thousands – more were never documented.”
Hundreds of walkers wearing orange T-shirts took part in the “Every Child Matters” walks in Niagara Falls each of the past two years, “making a visible and powerful statement of community support.”
“Native communities were forever impacted and changed by the residential school movement,” said Seneca Gaming Corp. President and CEO Kevin Nephew, a member of the Seneca Nation. “Each step that we take on our walk is an important step toward healing for the families, individuals and communities that continue to deal with the pain even to this day. It’s also a way to remember the children who died at the schools, whose lives must never be forgotten.”
Participants for this year’s walk are asked to gather at Seneca Square, in front of the Fourth Street entrance to Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, starting at 10:45 a.m., with brief welcome remarks scheduled for 11 a.m. Walkers will then start along the approximately one-mile walk route, pausing for a moment of silence at Prospect Point, with a healing song led by Haudenosaunee singers, before returning to Seneca Square.
The press release added, “For years observed as Orange Shirt Day as a way to educate and promote awareness of the impact Indigenous residential schools had on Indigenous people and communities, Sept. 30 is now a federal statutory holiday in Canada known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The ‘Every Child Matters’ walk in Niagara Falls coincides with a number of other awareness events taking place across Western New York and Ontario throughout the weekend.”