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.”

Just Posted

Man armed with bear spray robs Campbell River liquor store

A male armed with bear spray robbed the Big Rock Liquor Store… Continue reading

Chamber’s new ED hopes to influence positive relationships in Campbell River

‘The greater community is only as strong as its pieces,’ says Mary Ruth Snyder

Striking Western Forest Products workers willing to ‘modify position’ if talks progress

Brian Butler, USW 1-1937 president, says union and WFP to meet Thursday, Dec. 12

Christmas Market raises more than $6,500 for struggling forestry families

Money, gifts, non-perishable food items donated to Loonies for Loggers

Regional board authorizes bylaws to fund Cortes Island community halls, first responder service

Negotiations on contracts to fund two community halls and provide first responder… Continue reading

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

Penticton RCMP warn of new ‘porting’ scam that puts internet banking, online accounts at risk

Two-factor verification has been the go-to way to keep online accounts secure

Thunberg ‘a bit surprised’ to be Time ‘Person of the Year’

‘I could never have imagined anything like that happening,’ she said in a phone interview

B.C. patients wait 41% longer than national average to see a walk-in doctor: Medimap

The longest wait time was found in Sidney, B.C., where patients waited an average of 180 minutes

Toronto Raptors, Don Cherry top the list of Canadians’ Google searches in 2019

‘Champions’ was the theme of the last year, Google said

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Most Read