Residents unveil first ‘Every Child Matters’ crosswalk in Canada to honour residential school survivors

A ceremony to unveil the first official 'Every Child Matters' crosswalk was held today at Victoria Park, with Orange Shirt Society representatives, members of Kitchener Council and community members in attendance. 

During the ceremony, drums played as residents walked through Victoria Park, passing orange ribbons tied to lamp posts and orange footprints painted along the trails that lead to the new tribute crosswalk. Sheena Merling, Bin-no-g Man-na-doe Quay – Spirit of the Children, resident lead of this tribute, was among those who spoke at the ceremony.

“I was inspired by the overwhelming community support that I witnessed on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in 2021, but I felt there was more work to be done to continue the conversation,” said Sheena Merling, the resident lead behind the tribute. “I decided to form a committee of Indigenous community members and allies with the mission of creating a lasting memorial in public view in memory of the children who lost their lives in residential schools."

Merling and her committee were awarded a City of Kitchener Love My Hood matching grant to help bring their vision to life. Since then, Merling and the committee have engaged with residents, raised awareness, and led conversations to educate community members about the Every Child Matters movement and the impact of residential schools.

“This crosswalk was created by residents in this community, and Orange Shirt Society is pleased to endorse it as the first official ‘Every Child Matters’ crosswalk in Canada,” said Shannon Henderson, President, of the Orange Shirt Society. “The work of local Kitchener residents has inspired us, at the Orange Shirt Society, to build a nationwide crosswalk program. We’re looking forward to expanding the reach of this tribute in a meaningful way.”

“As a city, we’re committed to supporting and walking towards the path of reconciliation with Indigenous communities,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “It’s important to acknowledge the impact of residential schools and colonialism on First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. The crosswalk is an important symbol that represents our commitment to a shared future moving towards meaningful truth and reconciliation.”

The 'Every Child Matters' crosswalk tribute was made possible with funding from the City of Kitchener, the Waterloo Region Reconciliation Action partnership, and support from various community partners.

A gathering will also occur at Victoria Park on Friday, Sept. 30, for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Residents are encouraged to follow the Honorary Crosswalk Every Child Matters Kitchener Facebook page to follow this group's journey. We also encourage you to learn more about the Orange Shirt Society and other ways to support the Every Child Matters movement by visiting

To learn more about the new Every Child Matters crosswalk and other resident-led initiatives, visit


For more information, contact:

Shawn Falcao
Manager, Corporate Communications
City of Kitchener