Fred Jackson created this year’s Every Child Matters design for Orange Shirt Day (inset), which is held annually on Sept. 30. Here he is posing next to one of his designs that was installed at Vedder Crossing. (File photo/The Progress)

‘Every Child Matters’: Orange Shirt Day spreads awareness across B.C.

Fred Jackson’s design, The Bonding, is the image on this year’s T-shirt for Orange Shirt Day

Although we, as a nation, are miles away from where we used to be, we’ve still got quite a ways to go before reaching equality and righting the wrongs of our past. And as we prepare to travel the path ahead of us, it’s important to remember to wear our orange t-shirts.

Going into its sixth year, thousands are set to celebrate Orange Shirt Day Monday, based on the story of Phyllis Jack Webstad, a residential school survivor who had her brand new orange shirt taken from her on the first day of school and never returned.

Now an annual occurrence, Orange Shirt Day promotes awareness and education about the residential school system, its impact on Indigenous communities across the country, and emphasizes “Every Child Matters,” the event’s slogan, which is featured on all of its shirts.

READ MORE:

Beginning in the 1800s and continuing for more than a century, Indigenous children from coast to coast were taken from their homes and sent away to live in residential schools: government-funded, religious boarding schools that attempted to assimilate aboriginal children any way they could.

And while any orange shirt will do, purchasing one that features Fred Jackson’s artwork will put money into the Stó:lo mentorship program, which was designed for the very people Orange Shirt Day aims to help.

So this year, when Nations Creations put out a call for designs, Fred Jackson, who was born and raised on the Tzeachten First Nation, sat down at his computer and crafted a visual answer he titled The Bonding.

“When I read what they wanted, the first thing that popped into my head was a mother wolf and cub,” said Jackson. “And you can see in the (design) there’s a mother and a child also.”

Explaining his creative process for this design, Jackson said “it was almost like somebody was telling me a story and I illustrated it,” during a telephone interview.

“I had family members who were in residential schools,” he continued. “Most families have aunts and uncles and grandparents who went to residential schools.”

READ MORE: Reconciliation walk in Chilliwack starts journey of understanding

Even though Canada’s known worldwide as one of the friendliest, most equitable nations on the globe, we still carry our fair share of sour notes beneath our maple syrup sweetness.

During their century-long tenure, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced into the care of 130 residential schools across Canada, where at least 6,000 died, however, about 80,000 former students are still living today.

“And because they’ve been through so much … it affects our generation because it gets passed down,” Jackson added.

So upon learning that his design had been chosen for this year’s Nations Creations Orange Shirt Day shirts, which have been sold all over, Jackson says he felt proud.

“I’m pretty modest normally, but this is (pretty) cool,” said the self-taught artist. “It’s been sold across Canada and even further. I’m glad I could share a story and my art.”

READ MORE: Plaza upgrade a celebration of native art

Orange Shirt Day “is a great way to bring the community together and recall what happened and (offer) healing,” said Charmaine Surman from Vedder Elementary, where Jackson will speak during one of this year’s Orange Shirt Day events.

And “this design kind of hits home in that sense,” said Jackson. Designing it “made me feel better (about the past) that I could be a part of something people can enjoy.

“Bad stuff happens, but if we can find a way (through it), then it’s nice to be part of something that’s positive from something that was bad in the past.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coast Mountain College sets up student emergency fund

It’ll provide grocery store gift cards for students affected by COVID-19 crisis

Red Chris, Tahltan collaborate on COVID-19 safety

Mine continues to operate with several new measures aimed at stopping spread of virus

School district #54 works on school plan

School district officials and teachers are this week communicating plans to resume… Continue reading

UPDATE: Man drowns crossing Skeena River

59-year old Prince Rupert victim pronounced dead at Mills Memorial

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

‘We don’t need this right now’: B.C. man breaks up road rage incident

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road in Saanich on Vancouver Island

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

B.C. adding $300 to monthly income and disability assistance payments

‘Crisis supplement’ for COVID-19 for April, May and June

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

Migrant worker advocates blame feds, employers for COVID-19 outbreak at B.C. garden store

Migrant farm worker group calls on government for adequate health and safety requirements

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Most Read