6 Indigenous artists share the inspiration behind their designs for Orange Shirt Day 2022

(Source, left: Rezonance Printing; right: Bizaanide’ewin/Kokom Scrunchies)

September 30 will mark the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day when many people will wear orange to recognize the legacy of residential schools and the harm they cause to Indigenous peoples. This day is also known as Orange Shirt Day, inspired by Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation elder from Williams Lake, British Columbia, who at the age of six had the orange shirt her grandmother gave her when she she attended a boarding school. You can read a detailed history of Orange Shirt Day on the Orange Shirt Society website here.

Each year, the company organizes a competition to determine the new official Orange sweater day design. This year’s winner is Geraldine Catalbas, a grade 11 student from Ponoka, Alberta. She shared a bit of her winning design with the Orange Shirt Society: “The shoes represent the children who died in residential schools. The shoelace turns into an eagle representing their freedom in the sky and their fight through hard times.”

the official Geraldine Catalbas Orange Shirt Day 2022 design on both sides of an orange t-shirt with the design
The official Orange Shirt Day 2022 design by Geraldine Catalbas. (Source: Orange Shirt Society)

This year’s official jerseys can be purchased at these retailers and proceeds will go to the Orange Shirt Society. In addition to having an annual official design, the company also welcomes other manufacturers to create a drawing it “means something to you or your Nation”. We reached out to a few Indigenous artists who have done just that and asked them to tell us a bit about their designs for 2022, as well as the inspirations behind them. Their responses, which have been edited for length and clarity, are below, along with information on where their shirts can be purchased.

Daniel Puglas for Strong Nations

Kwakwaka’wakw artist Daniel Puglas’ wolf design is this year’s orange shirt for Strong Nations, an Indigenous-owned and operated online book and gift store and publisher. It is available for purchase on their siteand a portion of the sales will be donated to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society.

“My inspiration came from our late mother, Sally F. Williams, who died of cancer on February 27, 2021. Our mother often spoke of her home, Hopetown Village on Watson Island, and how the island had the shape of a wolf’s head. There is a story from the Gwawaenuk tribe of how the island took the shape of a wolf, but I would need to speak to our elders. Our mother passed on a great part of his knowledge to his children and grandchildren, so it seemed appropriate to put a mother wolf and a baby wolf on the shirt.”

an orange t-shirt with the drawing of the wolf by artist Daniel Puglas and the words

Bizaanide’ewin X Kokom Scrunchies

These limited-edition t-shirts were designed by Ojibwe artist Caitlin Newago of Bizaanide’ewin in collaboration with Kokom Scrunchies, a scrunchie company founded by Mya Beaudry, an 11-year-old Algonquin entrepreneur from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. Orange shirts are sold out on The Kokom Chouchous websitebut are still available for purchase online at bizaanideewin.com. Kokom Scrunchies will donate all proceeds from their share of the shirts to the Orange Shirt Society and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Newago will donate 50% of profits to the National Native American Residential School Healing Coalition, adding that she has donated nearly $500 so far. “I wish I could give even more,” she said, “because it’s a cause close to my heart.”

“My inspiration for this design comes directly from my family. Both of my maternal grandparents are residential school survivors located in Odanah, Wis. My family is impacted to this day. I made this design not just as a way to raise awareness, but as a direct reclamation of culture. My floral work is based on traditional Ojibwa floral beadwork and quillwork. -Caitlin Newago

“We reached out to Caitlin on Instagram because she’s such an amazing and talented artist. Her Ojibwa floral work is similar to Algonquin flowers, so we thought it would be a great and amazing collaboration, and it was. We brainstormed and Caitlin quickly began putting the ideas into the beautiful design featured on our orange shirts.We also shared a special feature as artists and businesses as both of our works were featured on the show televised Reservation dogs.” – Kokom Scrunchies

an orange t-shirt with a floral pattern and the words

Tina Taphouse

Tina Taphouse, an Interior Salish photographer and designer who lives in Langley, B.C., designed her 2022 orange shirt in honor of her mother. She shares more information on how to order her T-shirts on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society.

“I’m Interior Salish from St’át’imc territory. Lillooet is where my group, T’it’q’et, is located. This is my second year designing an orange shirt.

“I am a Sixties Scoop survivor. I met my birth mother in July 2012 in Lillooet. I learned that my dear mother had given me up for adoption so that I would not have to attend the Indian residential school in Kamloops. .

“Last year, my mom watched me in silence while I made my orange shirts, while I weeded vinyl and hot-pressed shirts, during the heated dome.

“My design this year is dedicated to the day I met my dear mum, July 2012 in Lillooet. I have had this image in my mind for a year since she passed away in August 2021. I feel my mum is still with me when I make my shirts dedicated to us. Each shirt is made and packaged by me, and for me; each is a work of art sent with respect and love for my dear mom.”

A split screen of an orange t-shirt with a mountain and two bears on it.  On the left, the t-shirt on a white background.  Right: A close-up of the pattern on the shirt.

Flourish and Grow x Rezonance Printing

These shirts are a collaboration between Rezoning printingwhich describes itself as “an Indigenous-run print shop on the Ziibiing deshkan,” and Mikaila Stevens, a Mi’kmaq pearl artist and designer based in London, Ontario. flourish and grow. Online orders are closed, but Adam Sturgeon of Rezonance Printing said they will be holding local pop-ups in London over the weekend and next week. The first is this Saturday at Punk rock flea market. Proceeds will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society and the Rezonance Youth Internship Program.

“This Orange Shirt Day, I was inspired to create a design for Rezonance Printing that was very personal and close to my heart. I grew up in Kamloops and wanted to honor and pay homage to the beautiful place I called home when I was a kid. As an Indigenous person, and honestly, as a screenprinter, Orange Shirt Day evokes a lot of complicated feelings. In my art, I use a lot of bright colors to create works that bring a sense of light and a positivity to all i am trying to create For this orange shirt [Day] design, I chose bright contrasting colors against the orange shirt to bring a unique, otherworldly look to the landscape inspired by the view of the Thompson River located in Secwepemc (Shuswap) territory. The white version of the shirt was extra special to me, and I really love how the orange shimmer in the mountains.

“I can still feel the power of the mountains, trees and water in Kamloops. Lots of different feelings and memories came flooding back when Kamloops hit the headlines last June and sparked a wave of grief across all Indigenous communities. It struck me in a unique way that is still hard to put into words, but with this design I wanted to remind myself that there is still beauty on the other side of sorrow and there is power to recognize and honor our stories made possible by the resilience of our ancestors.” -Mikaila Stevens

An orange t-shirt with a mountain design on it with the words

Aritzia X Atheana Picha

Atheana Pichaan interdisciplinary Salish artist from the Kwantlen First Nation, designed the orange shirt for this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is currently sold out online and all proceeds will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society. We reached out to Picha and she shared her artist statement with us:

“I wanted to draw about Indigenous joy, celebrate our future and recognize what our elders have been through. To honor the survivors in my life, I asked one of my elders what orange shirts mean to him. He explained to me that they made him feel seen and mattered. He did a lot of healing work after surviving residential school, and this design acknowledges part of that process.

“The salmon egg and mature salmon represent our young and old. The wave represents the movement of the teachings between generations and the ripple effect of our impact in each other’s lives – it is a reminder of to be compassionate towards one another and to be gentle. The sun represents brightness. “Every child matters” is a phrase that uplifts and recognizes the importance of community.”

an orange t-shirt with the drawing of the artist Atheana Picha and the words

Support is available to anyone affected by their residential school experience.

A National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counseling and crisis support is also available 24/7 through the Hope for Wellness Helpline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca

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