Skip to content

Vernon schools support Orange Shirt Day with design competition

All 20 schools in SD22 were a part of a contest to design a unique orange shirt
All 20 schools in School District 22 had a t-shirt design contest, with the winner getting their design printed, and put up for sale for students and teachers to wear on Orange Shirt day. (Bowen Assman/Morning Star)

Seeing only a mere dotting of orange to recognize Indigenous residential school survivors last year prompted Vernon schools into action.

“Last year, we recognized that many of our students were not wearing orange shirts on Orange Shirt Day,” said Dave Lafontaine, principal of Indigenous education. “So, we conducted a T-shirt design contest in the spring and selected a winner.”

More than 200 designs were submitted, with each school selecting a winner.

The result is an array of unique designs, one from each of the 20 schools in the district, that showcases what orange shirt day means to them.

In preparation for Orange Shirt Day on Saturday, Sept. 30, School District 22 has set up a display in their offices to showcase the creativity of students, in recognition of the importance of amplifying Indigenous voices.

Orange Shirt Day is now known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as the provincial government has now given it holiday status for schools and businesses, in an effort to recognize the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system.

“This year is the first year that every student has to have four credits in an Indigenous course in order to graduate,” said Lafontaine.

“It’s the only place in Canada and its a big big move for the province, in an effort to educate the youth.”

The shirts are for sale in each school.

Over the past three years, donations from profits of shirts sold have amounted to $4,411, with proceeds going towards the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

Students and staff are encouraged to wear their orange shirt on Friday, Sept. 29.

READ MORE: School staff make space for Indigenous stories in Vernon

READ MORE: Splatsin orange shirt sales raise $10,000 for Enderby monument

Elementary, high school and middle schools all participated, with a wide array of designs. (Bowen Assman- Morning Star Photo)
A t-shirt on the left incorporates anime into their design while the shirt on the right shows a nsyilxcən, Syilx phrase translating to “Every Child Matters” in English. (Bowen Assman- Morning Star Photo)

Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
Read more