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Every Child Matters September 20th, 2019

The PMRC Administrative Staff in t-shirts by Anishinaabe artist, Mike Alexander. Mike and his partner, Kamloops United Church member Natika Bock, sold the shirts in Kamloops at KUC and Hills of Peace, and in Vancouver at First United Church. Many United Church people across the PMRC chose these beautiful shirts for September 30th’s Orange Shirt Day 2019. Below are the words from Natika, and Mike, on the importance of Orange Shirt Day, and the imagery in Mike’s artwork.

September 30

Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters

In 1973 when Phyllis Webstad was 6 years old, her granny bought her a new orange shirt that she proudly wore for her first day of school at St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, BC. When she arrived, she was stripped of all her cloths and they were never returned. From that traumatic experience, the colour orange became of a trigger and a connection to a time when she and the other children at the school didn’t matter.

Orange Shirt Day is an important annual event for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to come together with governments, churches, schools, and communities in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. It is an opportunity to ensure that important discussions on the legacy of residential schools continue to occur, in order to strengthen our relationships moving forward.

This year, local Anishinaabe artist Mike Alexander is honoured to share “Bear and Cub”, drawn in Woodlands Style, Indigenous to the Ojibway people of the Great Lakes and Canadian Plains. Mike is originally from Swan Lake First Nation in Manitoba and is a survivor of the 60’s Scoop. Mike practises art and sport as part of his recovery and healing from the negative impacts of being removed from his family, community, culture and language.

Sales for these shirts begins on July 28, 2019 and 10% of the sales will go to the Orange Shirt Society. Shirts are available in CHILDREN (XS – XL), WOMEN (S – 2XL) and MEN (S – 2XL) and are $22.00 each. The last day to order shirts is Sunday September 9, 2019.

September 30 was chosen for Orange Shirt Day, because it is the time of year when Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their homes to residential schools. We want to ensure that we are remembering, passing on these survival stories and teachings to our next generations. It is our hope that folks in our local faith community wear these shirts for September 29, 2019 services, to demonstrate our commitment to the TRC Calls to Action and to fully acknowledge that Every Child Matters.

Natika and Mike