Orange Shirt Day is held every year on September 30 to honour the healing journey of residential school survivors and bring awareness to the need for reconciliation. Named after Phyllis Webstad’s favourite orange shirt—taken away from her in 1973 on her first day of residential school—this day has grown from a local event in her community of Williams Lake, B.C. to a statutory holiday.

Since the discovery of the 215 Indigenous children’s bodies in the mass grave at Kamloops Residential School — a number that just keeps on climbing as truth is uncovered at more schools — flags across the country have been flown at half-mast and people have been wearing orange shirts to show their solidarity and commitment to reconciliation.

This year, many activists are encouraging the wearing of orange shirts for Canada Day, too. Educators like Ian Powell of North Vancouver are underlining the importance of reconsidering what makes us Canadian, as settlers of the stolen land on which we reside.

Many local shops are allowing for the purchase or pre-order of orange shirts leading up to September 30. Below, we’ve outlined five designs by local organizations or creators and where the proceeds will be donated to Indigenous causes that will help advance reconciliation and keep these conversations going.

Bear Horne’s Every Child Matters Shirts ($20)

Bear Horne’s Every Child Matters Shirts ($20)

This shirt was designed by Douglas “Bear” Horn. The bear helps us to follow the right path, the eagle is meant to help us envision a bright future, the hummingbird keeps our mind, body and spirit healthy, and the flower feeds the connection of all of the elements shown on the shirt. Proceeds from the sales help Eddy Charlie (a residential school survivor) and friend Kristin Spray, who both started Victoria Orange Shirt Day in 2015 to continue to spread awareness about the effects of residential schools.
Morgan Asoyuf’s Every Child Matters Shirt ($25)

Morgan Asoyuf’s Every Child Matters Shirt ($24)

Designed by Morgan Asoyuf, a Tsimshian artist, net proceeds will be donated to organizations working to undo the generational trauma that residential schools caused.
Every Child Matters Shirt ($25)

Every Child Matters Shirt ($25)

This text-only design is available at Skwachàys Lodge Aboriginal Hotel & Gallery ($25), which isa non-profit registered charity who funds living and work studios for 24 artists in residence at the lodge, run by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, 

 

Shayne Hommy’s Every Child Matters Shirt ($18)

Shayne Hommy’s Every Child Matters Shirt ($18)

The above shirt was designed by Grade 11 student Shayne Hommy from Dawson Creek, B.C. His Moosum attended residential school and he sees Orange Shirt Day as a chance for justice and awareness for Indigenous people. The design showcases three Indigenous girls from different tribes holding hands to represent the unity, resilience and strength of Indigenous People.

KC Hall’s Every Child Matters Shirt ($20)

KC Hall’s Every Child Matters Shirt ($20)

Local Indigenous artist KC Hall designed this shirt for the Urban Native Youth Association. They are available in both adult and youth sizes, all of the proceeds go to UNYA.

 

A 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line to support former residential school students, and those affected, can be reached any time at 1-866-925-4419.