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.
Nanook Gordon Orange Shirt Day Design (2021)
Orange T-shirts designed and hand-printed by Inuvialuk artist and activist Nanook Gordon are available online and at pop-ups in Toronto, ON, for the rest of the month. Featuring an image of their partner Brianna Olson-Pitawanakwat in a jingle dress, the proceeds of the T-shirts go towards Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction, a grassroots collective started by Gordon and Olson-Pitawanakwat that brings support to houseless residential school survivors. You can purchase a T-shirt through the TIHR Facebook and Instagram pages or in person on Fridays 3:00-7:00 PM at Kensington Market in Toronto, ON.
Jennifer Qupanuaq May Orange Shirt Day Design (2021)
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)
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 and Feathers of Hope.
Anne Kadluk Orange Shirt Day Design (2021)
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. The design features an ulu, feather and infinity symbol lining a stylized heart. 100% of the profits from the sales of these products are being donated to the Aboriginal Child Resource Centre 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)
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. She is on day 114, and 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.