Failed first attempt but spring 2022 will see Indigenous crosswalk success

Update on the commemorative orange crosswalk to honour Indigenous communities affected by the residential school system


On Saturday, Oct. 30, a special ceremony was held at the Esplanade in Pickering behind City Hall. The City inaugurated the opening of a specially painted crosswalk adjacent to City Hall, dedicated to the Indigenous of the region.

Indigenous sang tribal songs and played traditional music to commemorate the history and culture of the Indigenous of the area. 

Guest speaker, Chief Grey Cloud, with tongue in cheek, renamed himself ‘Chief Long Wind,’ as he was long-winded in recounting his story about the Seven Feathers.

The Seven Feathers
The Indigenous honour the natural world around them, Mother Earth, the God of the Lake, and they also pay respect to the elders of their community, the present ones and those from the past. In so honouring the elders of the past, Chief Grey Cloud explained the story behind the Seven Feathers.

In the story, a boy was led by his Grandfather on a walk-around the region to learn about his ancestors and his culture. The Grandfather then told the lad the story behind the Seven Feathers. Each feather represented an elder of the community of long ago. Each feather represented a value that the boy should learn explained the Grandfather.

Grandfather of Love
Learn to hold family and community members close to your heart always;

Grandfather of Respect
Care and honour every member of the community;

Grandfather of Honesty
Learn the proper values of the community and abide by them;

Grandfather of Bravery
Be courageous and live life with courage in face of challenges;

Grandfather of Truth
Live life honouring reality, truth and the real world around you;

Grandfather of Humility
Be humble duly honouring your world, your culture and your community;

Grandfather of Wisdom
See knowledge in order to live a better life always.

The feathers represent the values of the Indigenous community, values by which each member strives to live, values to which we all should subscribe.


The crosswalk painting began to disintegrate days later, the likely cause, the deeply soaked pavement subjected to days and days of rainfall. The City responded immediately with an announcement:

The City of Pickering is disheartened to announce that the multiple coats of paint used for the commemorative orange crosswalk have not been able to properly cure and adhere to the pavement, due to the consistent cold and rainy weather experienced over the last two weeks of October.

This resulted in significant deterioration of the surface since opening to pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and as such, the crosswalk will be temporarily removed and restored in Spring 2022. This decision was made in consultation with members of the Indigenous Relationship Building Circle, and we have committed to installing temporary weather-proof signage near the original crosswalk in an effort to continue to educate the public about the initiative.

Background
On October 30, 2021, the City of Pickering unveiled a commemorative orange crosswalk in honour of Indigenous communities affected by the residential school system.

The first of its kind in Durham Region, the commemorative crosswalk was located at Valley Farm Road and the Esplanade North, and developed through a collaborative effort between the City of Pickering and the Indigenous Relationship Building Circle (IRBC) to honour the lost Indigenous children, survivors, their families, and communities affected by the residential school system.

Indigenous residents painted seven feathers on the crosswalk to reflect the Seven Grandfather Teachings (Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility, and Truth).

This crosswalk reaffirms a community-wide commitment to advance reconciliation. Learn more at LetsTalkPickering.ca/IRBC.

Read the September 28 news release.

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