Native Canadian Art – Honour Residential School survivors

honour residential school survivors

The search for orange  shirts begins

In 2017, when Orange Shirt Day weekend to honour residential school survivors came around, I scrambled at the last minute to try and find an orange shirt to wear but was not able to find one anywhere. In Canada, September 30th has been declared Orange Shirt Day on an annual basis. This movement was started by Phyllis Webstad, who excitedly wore a new outfit including a shiny new orange shirt for her first day of residential school. Her orange shirt was stripped away and she never saw it again. 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 orange shirts with an Indigenous artist and find an appropriate grassroots cause helping Indigenous children and support them with donations from sales. While 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) and above the baby are the words “Children are our Sacred Bundle” which convey 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 and include experiential group exercises for participants to work on improving the situation for Indigenous children.

Honour residential school survivors with your own orange shirt

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