Since its inception in 2013 September 30 has been marked as Orange Shirt Day, a day to recognize and honour the experiences of Residential Schools survivors, acknowledge the intergenerational impacts on individuals, family, and communities and work to raise awareness and support Indigenous communities on the path to reconciliation and healing.
This year Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Citizen Maddy Pilon is working to raise awareness with a bicycle journey through the history of Residential Schools in Ontario.
Maddy’s trek will begin at 4 a.m. on September 30 at the Mount Elgin Residential School memorial site on the Chippewa Of The Thames First Nation, from there she will continue on to the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford. She hopes to reach the Alderville Manual Labour School memorial plaque by 4 a.m. on October 1, all while sharing stories, resources, and information along the way.
Maddy shared the inspiration her journey:
“A few weeks ago I had a goal of biking 300km in one day. Over many hours of biking I decided to post little update videos throughout the day. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but I ended up having a lot of people watch and share the videos, and tell me how much they enjoyed watching me make my goal,” says Maddy. “I thought that if I could reach that many people just off a bike ride, I could do another ride and reach at least that many people to increase their awareness of Residential Schools and the pain and suffering that they caused and continue to cause to this day.
Maddy hails from the Georgian Bay area where most of her Métis family still lives. She currently lives near Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Belleville, Ontario. Her Métis ancestors were from Drummond Island and the Red River area.
Maddy believes her that training has prepared her to make her way to each of the schools in 24 hours.
“My number one goal is to raise awareness. So many people were not taught about Canada’s dark past and the intergenerational trauma it has caused,” says Maddy. “I have chosen this route so that I can share that the physical buildings still exist, to make a point that it really wasn’t that long ago that children were taken from their homes and forced to assimilate.”
Maddy’s goal is to raise $2400 — $100 per hour of biking — with the funds being split the funds between a different charitable groups and organizations.
Those interested can follow along with Maddy’s trek on Instagram @maddypilon. Donations to her GoFundMe campaign can be found here: https://gf.me/u/y2qqf3