CONTENT WARNING: This article contains information regarding residential schools.
The national crisis line for residential school survivors is 1-866-925-4419
You can also contact the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free at 1-800-721-0066
September 30 is Orange Shirt Day and now the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to acknowledge and show solidarity with residential school survivors.
It should go without saying that it is important to support Indigenous creators when purchasing products for Orange Shirt Day, but it has become particularly critical this year due to the added attention to the holiday and the number of products currently available that have been created with no relation to Indigenous makers and communities. Centring Indigenous voices and empowering Indigenous communities is critical to pushing back against the legacy of residential schools. If you’re unsure how the products you are purchasing support the communities most affected, we encourage you to reach out to confirm.
We’ve outlined 5 Inuit artists who have designed products available to purchase this year who are donating proceeds from the sales to Indigenous causes. Please join us in marking this day by wearing orange, listening to survivors and educating yourself on the lasting effects of residential schools on Inuit, First Nations and Métis families today.
This article was originally published over a year ago. Some of these artists may no longer be producing orange shirts. Please visit their sites individually for the most up to date information.
Nanook Gordon Orange Shirt Day Design (2022)© the artist
For the past five years, Inuvialuk artist and activist Nanook Gordon has been creating and selling Orange t-shirts and donating proceeds to residential school survivors. As of 2022, their hand-printed shirts are available on the Native Arts Society website, an online storefront for the two-spirit, trans-led gallery co-founded by Gordon and their partner Brianna Olson-Pitawanakwat which offers studio space, workshops and a place for street-involved, houseless and incarcerated artists to sell their work.
This year, you can order designs (also available in bulk) by Iñupiaq artist Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn, Gwitch’in artist Jeneen Frei Njootli, and an image of Olson-Pitawanakwat in a jingle dress, with proceeds going towards Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction, a grassroots collective also started by Gordon and Olson-Pitawanakwat that brings support to houseless residential school survivors.
Jennifer Qupanuaq May Orange Shirt Day Design (2021)© the artist
Jennifer Qupanuaq May
Film and media-arts student and seamstress Jennifer Qupanuaq May from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, has been working hard for months to create custom hand-printed orange T-shirts for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this year. Her designs feature the words “Every Child Matters” in five languages, including several dialects of Inuktitut along with handprints and hearts. The proceeds will go towards providing books on Indigenous history in Canada to schools in her area of Pointe Claire, QC. They are available to order through Jennifer Qupanuaq May’s Facebook page.
Emma Forbes Orange Shirt Day Design (2021)© the artist
Indigenous Notions, a Calgary, AB–based, family-owned clothing company with designs by Inuk-Caribbean youth Emma Forbes has both T-shirts and pins available for Orange Shirt Day. The design features an Inuksuk circled by a feather and infinity symbol with the words “Every Child Matters.” The T-shirts are available on the Indigenous Notions website, and be sure to check out their Instagram and Facebook pages, which feature important information around the history of residential schools in Canada. Proceeds will be contributed to the Orange Shirt Society, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society and USAY (Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth).
Anne Kadluk Orange Shirt Day Design (2022)© the artist
Kadluk Kreations, a small business owned by Anne Kadluk from Tikirarjuaq (Whale Cove), NU, has created a design available on T-shirts, hoodies and tank tops available in English and Inuktitut. This year’s design features a tunniit design, footsteps, a, feather and infinity symbol around a stylized heart. 100% of the profits from the sales of these products are being donated to the "Every Child Matters" bursary for graduating FNMI high school students in Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, ON. You can find Kadluk Kreations on Facebook and Instagram and purchases can be made on their website.
Tanya Innaarulik Orange Shirt Day Design (2021)© the artist
Montreal, QC–based artist Tanya Innaarulik has added orange t-shirts to her repertoire of beaded earrings, paintings and housewares featuring Inuit motifs designed by the artist. She has also committed to wearing an orange shirt every day for 215 days in honour of the 215 children found buried outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Innaruulik has noted that if she wore orange for each child found at all of the residential schools so far she would be wearing orange for 17 years. Originally from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, Innaarulik created a design that combines a medicine wheel with winged kamiks to honour those who attended residential schools. You can purchase an orange t-shirt on her Facebook page, Tanya Innaarulik Designs.