With national news of hundreds of unmarked graves found at residential schools, more are wearing orange to show their support.
The Wanuskewin gift shops in Saskatoon have been busy.
Every year, the First Nations gift shop sells orange shirts ahead of Orange Shirt Day on September 30th.
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After the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves in Saskatchewan and BC, the shop said it wanted to make a difference.
All of its proceeds from selling the orange shirts are going to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
“The big impact was the second residential school when they found (the graves),” said manager Shari Bedient. “I just though, this isn’t our money.”
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Bedient gets a ping on her phone every time they make a sale.
“On the weekend it was constant, any time I looked at my phone,” she said.
“It’s emotional, to see how many people are supporting.”
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Bedient said shirts are in such high demand the store only has them left in size 3-X . She said many customers are buying orange shirts ahead of Canada Day, choosing to mark the national holiday differently this year.
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One professor of Indigenous studies says it’s a good start, but just wearing a shirt isn’t doing enough.
“I mean it’s symbolism, but really what we’re talking about here is altering structures of power in society that allowed these kinds of atrocities to happen,” said Priscilla Settee.
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Settee said it’s important for non-Indigenous people to push for change in Canada.
Meanwhile, Bedient said she doesn’t expect to get new shirts before Canada day. She said she’d like to see them around the city.
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“A sea of orange,” she said with a smile.
She said if people want to buy an orange shirt, they should buy one from an Indigenous artist or an artist who is donated some of the proceeds to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering with trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
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