The Indigenous artist behind the Orange Shirt Day t-shirt design shares his inspiration

By Jon Rumley, Walmart Canada Corporate Affairs

There is no greater bond than that which unites parents to their children.

It was the inspiration of Timothy Foster, a Gitxsan artist from the House of Niisto in the Lax Seel clan who designed the artwork that appears on Orange Shirt Day shirts proud nativeavailable exclusively on Walmart Canada.

Timothy’s design depicts two killer whales – a parent with its calf, which symbolizes the love and protection parents have for their children. It was created in memory of his late wife and his son, who died suddenly more than five years ago.

“It represents the beautiful relationships we have with our children,” said Timothy, who lives in northwestern British Columbia. “We use our art to tell stories, our legends, our history. And seeing my art on the shirts also helps spread the word about my culture.

Orange Shirt Day, also known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliationtakes place every year on September 30. It is a day to wear orange in honor of the victims, survivors and families affected by the trauma caused by residential schools in Canada.

We think that more than 150,000 indigenous children attended boarding schools. Tragically, some never returned home. The pain is still felt today.

“Reconciliation is not an easy road – there is very deep trauma,” Timothy said. “There are cycles that need to be healed.”

On September 30, Walmart Canada associates will wear orange shirts in solidarity with Indigenous communities for the second year in a row.

For every orange shirt sold, 100% of the profits will go to the Orange Shirt Society to support the important work they do to raise awareness of the lasting effects of residential schools. In 2021, Walmart Canada donated $147,000 to the Orange Shirt Society, 100% of profits from Orange Shirt sales.

“You can’t change the past, but awareness is important,” said Rory Williams, a First Nations Walmart Canada store manager in Kelowna, British Columbia. “We are getting there, but there is a lot more work than people think.

For Angie Gelinas, Métis manager of a Walmart Canada store in Whitehorse, Yukon, Orange Shirt Day means hope for a better future.

“It allows us to recognize lost but not forgotten loved ones and it brings Indigenous cultures together,” she said. “I was adopted as a baby and didn’t know my Métis family. I wear orange to support those who have never been able to meet their family.

Walmart Canada is exploring ways to use its size and scale to drive change on the path to reconciliation.

I want my children to grow up in a world that accepts everyone because everyone is equal.

Rory Williams, Walmart Canada Store Manager

In February, Walmart Canada and the Walmart Foundation announcement over $3.5 million in grants to support Indigenous and Black communities in Canada, which is part of the Walmart Foundation’s US$20 million five-year commitment to advance equity for Indigenous and Black communities in Canada through food security and to economic opportunities.

Last December, Walmart Canada announced that it was the first exclusive retailer of Klemtu Spirit Hot Smoked Atlantic Salmonproduced by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation in partnership with Mowi Canada Westthat helps support Indigenous communities and jobs in Canada.

Additionally, Walmart Canada has made donations to several Indigenous organizations, including:

“It makes me really proud to see Walmart participating in Orange Shirt Day,” Rory said. “I want my children to grow up in a world that accepts everyone because everyone is equal. Every child matters.”

About Catharine C. Bean

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