National Truth and Reconciliation Day: Reflecting on Indigenous Reservations and Land Acknowledgement in Sarnia, Ontario

National Truth and Reconciliation Day: Reflecting on Indigenous Reservations and Land Acknowledgement in Sarnia, Ontario

Personal Paragraph:

Hello, I'm Kristie Buckingham, the writer of this blog post. As a privileged white woman, I acknowledge my own privileges and the responsibility that comes with them. I was raised partially by my grandparents, with my ‘big sister’, who is actually my cousin, who came from an Indigenous family on her dad's side. My little sister and I have also experienced generational trauma. While I am not Indigenous, I can relate to and understand firsthand the struggles that my big sister has endured and continues to face. It is through my own journey of self-revelation and breaking systemic cycles within my own family that I am starting to comprehend the trauma she has endured from her family on the other side that I didn't know very well when I was younger. As I grow older, the pieces are coming together, and making sense. I deeply wish that she was still well and part of my life so I could explain to her that it's not her fault. I wish I could save her, as she truly has been my best friend since birth. This personal journey has ignited a passion within me to contribute to the healing and support of Indigenous communities, as well as advocate for underrepresented individuals. This is dedicated to you and your ancestors, Shannie. I love you and I miss you.

During my childhood, my patriarchal grandfather played a pivotal role in shaping my understanding of the world. As one of the founders of the Sarnia Brigade in Sarnia, Ontario, he held a prominent position within the community. His influence and dedication to providing opportunities for others were truly remarkable.

In a time when societal norms restricted girls from participating in certain activities, my grandfather broke those barriers and ensured that my cousin Shannon and I were included in the tournaments and travel he organized for the AAA Bantam hockey team and The Brigade Baseball teams. Though we didn't actively play these sports ourselves, being girls, we had the privilege of attending these events and experiencing the excitement and camaraderie that came with them.

However, as I reflect on those experiences now, I realize that my privilege as a white person shielded me from truly understanding the challenges faced by my cousin Shannon and others who did not fit the mould of societal expectations. It is with this understanding that I approach the story of my uncle Alvin.

Uncle Al, with his beautiful, silky black hair, tan complexion, and dimple when he smiled, was someone I admired and wanted to emulate. He exuded a sense of happiness and had a captivating charm that drew people towards him. As kids, we could get away with anything around him; he had a gentle and easy-going nature that made us feel safe and loved. Alvie and my Dad were best friends and I have many cherished memories of our family growing up.

I was included in most of their family trips, as Shannie was an only child and we really were inseparable; our moms being the closest of sisters. I was able to have many special privileges to brag about to my friends, having a cool Aunt and Uncle, and an older sister who was a little rebellious

However, as I grew older and became more aware of the world around me, I began to understand that my Uncle Alvie had faced his own battles. In hindsight, I now recognize that he experienced discrimination due to his indigenous heritage. It pains me to acknowledge that I was unaware of these struggles at the time and failed to support them fully.

Our journey to Alaska in 1992, organized by our dedicated grandfather, was a unique opportunity for us to explore the wonders of the region. Even though it was a trip of a lifetime for the AAA bantam boys hockey team, my cousin Shannon, and I were able to accompany them, thanks to my grandfather's efforts. 


Throughout our exploration, our grandparents ensured that we had the opportunity to learn about the local culture and history. We visited cemeteries where unique burial practices were observed. One tradition that fascinated us was the presence of small houses, known as spirit houses, perched atop graves. These houses symbolized reverence for the departed and served as a connection to the spiritual realm. Standing in the presence of these spirit houses, we felt a profound respect and a deepened understanding of the cultural traditions that shaped this land.

We visited the glaciers, marvelling at their immense size and the ethereal blue hues that adorned their icy surfaces. The grandeur of these icy giants left an indelible impression, reminding us of the fragile beauty of our planet and the urgent need for its preservation. I will never forget that colour. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Another highlight of our journey was the visit to the sled dog kennels. We witnessed the incredible bond between the mushers and their teams of highly trained dogs. The exhilarating rides through the snowy landscapes showcased the remarkable capabilities of these animals and the power of teamwork. It was a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the human spirit, as well as the natural world.

Looking back, I realize that our journey to Alaska was not only about experiencing the wonders of the region but also a testament to our grandfather's belief in equality and the power of education. Through his actions, he challenged societal norms, breaking barriers for us and allowing us to broaden our horizons. It was a transformative journey that shaped my understanding of privilege, inclusion, and the importance of embracing diverse experiences.

As I reflect on my cousin’s family; her grandma, aunts and little brother, their memory is forever etched in my heart. May this blog serve as a tribute to their impact on our lives and the profound experiences they’ve had. It is through these memories that I find the strength to acknowledge my privilege, to apologize to my uncle Alvie and Shannon for my family not fully understanding their experiences, and to commit myself to foster greater empathy, understanding, and reconciliation in our world. My deepest condolences to your family.

Currently, my focus is on raising awareness about domestic violence and supporting survivors. I recognize that the issues faced by underrepresented individuals, including those in Indigenous communities, intersect and are interconnected. While I may not be fully educated on Indigenous issues, I am committed to learning, growing, and using my platform to create positive change. 

As I reflect upon the dark history of residential schools, I am filled with deep sorrow and empathy for the Indigenous individuals and communities who endured immense suffering within those institutions. The experiences of the survivors and the intergenerational trauma that continues to affect their families are profound and heart-wrenching. It is crucial that we approach this topic with the utmost sensitivity, respect, and empathy. We must prioritize truth, reconciliation, and healing as fundamental steps toward building a more inclusive and compassionate society. 

By acknowledging the painful truths of the past, listening to the stories of survivors, and working towards dismantling the systemic injustices that persist, we can contribute to the process of healing and ensure that such atrocities are never repeated. Let us stand together, amplify Indigenous voices, and create a future that embraces truth, reconciliation, and justice for all.


Welcome to this educational blog post, where we delve into the significance of National Truth and Reconciliation Day and explore the indigenous reserves of Kettle Point and Aamjiwnaang in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Before we delve into the topic, it is essential to acknowledge the land on which we stand and its traditional custodians.

Land Acknowledgement for StopGap Solutions in Sarnia, Ontario:

We would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which StopGap Solutions operates in Sarnia, Ontario, is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Lenape peoples. We recognize and honour their ongoing connection to this land, their rich cultural heritage, and their contributions to the community.

Indigenous Reservations in Sarnia, Ontario:

Sarnia proudly hosts two vital indigenous communities: Kettle Point and Aamjiwnaang. Kettle Point First Nation, located on the southeastern shore of Lake Huron, is the reserve land for the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. It encompasses a rich cultural heritage and stretches across parts of southwestern Ontario and southeastern Michigan. Aamjiwnaang First Nation, situated adjacent to Sarnia's Chemical Valley, is the reserve land for the Aamjiwnaang people, who face unique challenges due to industrial activities in the vicinity.

Kettle Point First Nation:

Kettle Point First Nation, a vibrant community, strives to preserve its cultural practices while promoting community well-being. The Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation offer various programs and initiatives that support education, health, and cultural revitalization. By nurturing their heritage, they ensure the passing of traditions from one generation to the next, fostering a strong sense of identity and pride.

Aamjiwnaang First Nation:

Located near Sarnia's industrial area, Aamjiwnaang First Nation has faced environmental challenges and their impact on the community's well-being. Despite these obstacles, Aamjiwnaang remains resilient, celebrating its cultural heritage and working towards a sustainable future. They actively engage in initiatives that address issues related to environmental pollution, health, and social well-being.

National Truth and Reconciliation Day:

National Truth and Reconciliation Day holds immense importance in Canada's journey toward reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Observed on September 30th each year, this day serves as a reminder to acknowledge the historical injustices inflicted upon indigenous communities, particularly through the residential school system.

Reconciliation involves embracing a collective responsibility to address the intergenerational trauma experienced by indigenous peoples. It requires us to listen, learn, and support initiatives that promote healing, cultural preservation, and equitable opportunities for all. By creating spaces for dialogue, understanding, and empathy, we can foster positive relationships and work towards a more inclusive and just society.

Supporting Indigenous Communities:

As non-indigenous individuals, it is crucial to recognize our privilege and actively support indigenous communities. This involves educating ourselves about their histories, cultures, and contemporary issues. We must amplify indigenous voices, advocate for their rights, and challenge systemic barriers that hinder their progress. Embracing feminism in this context means recognizing and addressing gender-based disparities within indigenous communities, supporting indigenous women's voices, and working towards gender equality in all aspects of life.


On this National Truth and Reconciliation Day, let us come together to honour the experiences of residential school survivors, their families, and communities. By understanding the significance of indigenous reserves like Kettle Point and Aamjiwnaang in Sarnia, Ontario, and acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, we can contribute to the process of reconciliation and support the ongoing journey towards healing, understanding, and empowerment. Together, let us build a future that respects and celebrates the diversity and resilience of all people.

Here are some helpful tips for you and your family to begin today and every day to help with the issue of supporting Indigenous communities and fostering reconciliation:

1. Educate Yourself: 

Take the initiative to learn about Indigenous history, culture, and contemporary issues. Read books, watch documentaries, and explore online resources. This will help you develop a deeper understanding and empathy towards Indigenous peoples.

2. Engage in Meaningful Dialogue: 

Initiate conversations with your family and friends about Indigenous issues. Encourage open-mindedness and respectful discussions to foster greater awareness and understanding.

3. Support Indigenous Businesses and Artists:

Seek out Indigenous-owned businesses, buy their products, and support local Indigenous artists. This helps promote economic growth and empowers Indigenous communities.

4. Attend Indigenous Events and Workshops: 

Participate in community events, workshops, and cultural celebrations organized by Indigenous groups. This provides an opportunity to learn directly from Indigenous voices and build connections.

5. Advocate for Indigenous Rights:

Use your voice to advocate for Indigenous rights and justice. Write letters to government officials, support initiatives that promote equality, and stand against discriminatory practices.

6. Volunteer and Donate: 

Look for volunteer opportunities or donate to organizations that support Indigenous communities. This can involve contributing time, skills, or resources to initiatives focused on education, health, land rights, or cultural preservation.

7. Land Acknowledgement: 

Practice land acknowledgement in your daily life. Before meetings or gatherings, take a moment to acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians of the land you are on. This simple act demonstrates a commitment to recognizing and honouring Indigenous peoples' ongoing connection to the land.

8. Challenge Stereotypes and Bias: 

Be conscious of stereotypes and biases you may hold about Indigenous peoples. Challenge these assumptions and actively seek to dismantle them through education and exposure to diverse Indigenous perspectives.

9. Support Indigenous-led Initiatives: 

Stay informed about Indigenous-led initiatives in your community and provide support when possible. This can include attending events, signing petitions, or amplifying their messages through social media and other platforms.

10. Engage in Self-Reflection: 

Continuously reflect on your own thoughts, attitudes, and actions towards Indigenous peoples. Acknowledge and address any unconscious biases or prejudices you may have, and strive to be an ally by supporting Indigenous voices and advocating for change.

Remember, supporting Indigenous communities and fostering reconciliation is an ongoing journey. It requires active engagement, empathy, and a commitment to learning and unlearning. By incorporating these tips and tricks into your daily life, you can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society.

Aamjiwnaang First Nation - Official website: [Aamjiwnaang First Nation](

Kettle and Stony Point First Nation - Official website: [Kettle and Stony Point First Nation](

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation - Official website: [National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation](

Indigenous Services Canada - Official website: [Indigenous Services Canada](

Assembly of First Nations - Official website: [Assembly of First Nations](

Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society - Official website: [Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society](

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls - Official website: [National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls](

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