With the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation coming up this Saturday, orange shirts are in high demand across the country this week. Orange Shirt Day, as it’s otherwise known, is meant to honour the survivors of the residential school system along with those who died at the hands of the organizers of the system. Orange shirts, inspired by Phyllis’ Story, symbolize one of the many personal items stripped from the students.
With just a few days left, here are a few stores to find orange shirts that are either designed by Indigenous artists, sold at Indigenous-owned businesses or whose donations are going to reconciliation efforts.
At the Cedar Basket, the gift shop at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, you can find “Every Child Matters” inscribed on everything from orange T-shirts to hats, patches and flags. One such shirt has the words written across a heart, designed by Tsimshian artist Morgan Asoyuf. Proceeds will be directed to the Orange Shirt Society, the B.C. Aboriginal Child Care Association and the new Native Northwest Reconciliation Fund.
The Native Arts Society is an Indigenous-owned art gallery and studio space located at 115 Church St. that is offering order pick-up available on Thursday and Friday. These orange T-shirts are hand-printed by intergenerational survivors, with proceeds going to the Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction, a grassroots initiative with the goal of reducing the harm and burden that society places on Indigenous people.
Old’s Cool General Store, located in East York, has been supporting Orange Shirt Day before the official declaration of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This year, the shirts were designed by Ojibwe artist from Dokis First Nation, Roxanne Thibault, and Coast Salish artist Simone Diamond. Proceeds from the shirts go to Anishnawbe Health Toronto.
You can visit any Giant Tiger across Canada to find an orange T-shirt designed by two-spirit Ojibway artist Patrick Hunter who hails from Red Lake, Ontario. 100 per cent of the proceeds for these shirts go towards Indspire, an Indigenous registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.
Founded in 2021 by Chelsee Pettit, an Anishinaabe member of Aamjiwnaang First Nation, streetwear brand Aaniin currently has a shop location at stackt market, and beginning on Tuesday, Pettit’s made-in-Toronto orange T-shirt design will be available for purchase in-store. The shirt features the phrase “gichi apiitendaagoziwag akina abinoonjiiyag,” meaning every child matters, written 94 times and separated into six sections to represent the 94 calls to action and the six categories Indigenous people across Canada are fighting for: child welfare, education, health, justice, language and culture. The shirt also includes a QR code that will link people to more information about the calls to action.
Sunnybrook Gift Shop
Available for pickup in-store, Sunnybrook Hospital’s gift shop is selling one orange T-shirt design that was created by local Indigenous artist Animikiik’otcii Maakaai, an Anishinaabe multidisciplinary artist from Toronto. Maakaai’s father, Alex McKay, is depicted in this illustration and survived attending two residential schools. Proceeds from the sale of these shirts will be donated to Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, a community organization that provides counselling, material assistance and other direct services to First Nations people in Toronto as well as to encourage and enhance spiritual and personal growth.