September 30 is Orange Shirt Day, when Canada acknowledges its history of residential schools.
Across the country, people wear orange to commemorate the residential school experience and to support reconciliation.
Rogers Communications thanks Canadians for standing with Indigenous Peoples.
The company said Canadians raised nearly $100,000 and purchased almost 5000 orange t-shirts designed by Indigenous artist, Patrick Hunter.
Hunter is a 2-Spirit Ojibway Woodland artist and graphic designer.
Hailing from Red Lake in northwestern Ontario, Hunter lives in Toronto but returns to the community to teach the next generation of Woodland artists.
His work is on display at Toronto’s City Hall and CBC Headquarters as well as Toronto Dominion, Bank of Montreal, and The Prince’s Trust Canada banks.
Hunter’s work also featured on Bloor Street during Pride celebrations in 2019.
Using his design, the fundraiser, which started Aug. 7, 2020, ran across Rogers media assets.
Orange Shirt Day
Proceeds will assist the Orange Shirt Society, an Indigenous non-profit that raises awareness of Canada’s residential school system, and the impact it has left on generations of Indigenous Peoples across Canada.
Executive Director Phyllis Webstad is also an author, whose personal experience at a residential school inspired Orange Shirt Day.
She published her story, The Orange Shirt Story, as a children’s book in 2018.
“September 30 is a day we call upon all Canadians to learn about the traumatic legacy of the residential schools, listen to stories from survivors and acknowledge those tragically lost to the system. The support we’ve seen from our collaborators and from communities coast to coast to support Orange Shirt Day is truly meaningful as we continue our healing journey, and focus on education as a means to reconciliation.”
Canada officially recognized Orange Shirt Day in 2013.
150,000 Indigenous youth experienced residential schools for more than a century until the last school closed in 1996.
Rogers helped to spread awareness with the #WeWearOrange campaign.
Kim Barrington, Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Network, said support was overwhelming.
“This campaign was a first for us, and it was amazing to see the team come together with passion and a commitment to helping our communities, by leveraging the full power of our assets to increase awareness of support for Orange Shirt Day.”
Barrington added it’s a reflection of hope for Indigenous communities.
Mayor Don Scott acknowledged Orange Shirt Day at the Sept. 15 RMWB Council Meeting.
Wearing an orange shirt, he said residential schools even extended into the region.
There was the Convent of Angels Indian Residential School in Fort Chipewyan and the Janvier Day School.
RELATED: Residential schools best described as cultural genocide: Truth and Reconciliation report
“Orange Shirt Day is a national movement to raise awareness of Canada’s residential schools as we honour residential school survivors and remember those that did not survive. We live on Treaty 8 and unceded Métis territory in our region. It’s important we take time to acknowledge and honour all those that were and are impacted by the legacy of residential schools, including right here at home.”
Mayor Scott added residents may show their support, and wear orange shirts on the annual National Day of Recognition.
“It is important that all Canadians understand the complex truth about the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and the resilience that Indigenous Peoples have shown amidst the collective harms and all atrocities.”
He added citizens can post photos on social media using #OrangeShirtDay and #OrangeShirtSociety.
Mayor Scott said there will be free Indigenous learning modules setup across the RMWB.
“As a Municipality, we are committed to working in a spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities. Let’s recognize Orange Shirt Day together on September 30.”
Orange Shirt Day T-shirts are still available online through the Today’s Shopping Choice website until Oct. 16, 2020.
Rogers will continue to partner with Indigenous communities and organizations as part of The 60 Project.