The search for orange shirts begins
In 2017, when Orange Shirt Day weekend came around, I scrambled to try and find an orange shirt to wear. I was unsuccessful. In Canada, September 30th has been declared Orange Shirt Day on an annual basis. This movement was started by Phyllis Webstad. When she was a child, she was sent to residential school and had excitedly worn a new outfit including a shiny new orange shirt on her first day. Unfortunately, her orange shirt was stripped away and she never saw it again. It became a symbol of what she had lost. She started this movement “in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well being, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters.” In my case, I wear it particularly to honour my mother and 2 uncles who survived residential school.
Make my own
Since I didn’t want to be without an orange shirt in 2018, I decided that I would make my own. I would find an Indigenous artist to provide the logo and find an appropriate grassroots cause. Donations from shirt sales would be made to a cause that helped Indigenous children.
I was having a chat with my friend Karen English, who organizes the “Children are our Sacred Bundle” conferences. She mentioned that she was interested in collaborating on producing t-shirts. That’s where I had the idea to combine the two ideas and to make an orange shirt that would benefit her project. The artwork on the shirt is a baby in a papoose (Indigenous baby carrier). Above the baby are the words “Children are our Sacred Bundle”.
Show your solidarity!
This shirt conveys a strong message which is in line with Every Child Matters – the slogan of Orange shirt movement. Anyone can wear an orange shirt and show solidarity and that they believe that Every Child Matters!
Where do you find your orange shirt to honour residential school survivors?
This September 30th, wear an orange shirt to honour residential school survivors. Our orange shirt features artwork by Kalum Teke Dan, a Blackfoot artist from Kainai Nation. Each shirt sold provides a donation to the Children are our Sacred Bundle conferences. These conferences bring wisdom keepers to share their knowledge. They include experiential group exercises for participants to work on improving the situation for Indigenous children.Honour residential school survivors with your own orange shirt