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Concerns raised over Calgary Catholic School District selling Orange Shirt Day items

Click to play video: 'Concerns raised over Calgary Catholic School District selling Orange Shirt Day items' Concerns raised over Calgary Catholic School District selling Orange Shirt Day items
WATCH: Some Indigenous community members are raising concerns over the Calgary Catholic School District selling Orange Shirt Day items. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, questions are being asked about why a non-Indigenous artist and vendor were used. – Aug 23, 2021

Some Indigenous community members are raising concerns over the Calgary Catholic School District selling Orange Shirt Day items.

Charlene Heron and Brye Robertson are both daughters of residential school survivors. When they heard the CCSD was selling Orange Shirt Day shirts, they had a lot of questions.

“The hand that the Catholic Church had in residential schools is such a big thing. For them to go and do this is not right,” Heron said.

Between Aug. 16 and 22, the CCSD had a pop-up shop for Orange Shirt Day.

People were invited to purchase an orange shirt to show support for reconciliation and continuing the discussion about residential schools.

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Read more: ‘Remember us’: Orange Shirt Day’s B.C. founder says residential schools still recent history

The district says the campaign was created in collaboration with its Indigenous team to promote awareness about Orange Shirt Day and the Orange Shirt Society.

The Orange Shirt Society is a non-profit organization that creates awareness of the intergenerational impacts of residential schools.

CCSD used an approved district vendor, which the district acknowledges is non-Indigenous.

“They could’ve used the Orange Shirt Society. They could’ve done the bulk order through them. They did put the link (to the Orange Shirt Society) in but why try to sell their own shirts with their own design and use a non-Indigenous company? It doesn’t make any sense,” Heron said.

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A spokesperson for the CCSD said they consulted with and received permission from the Orange Shirt Society to use their slogan. But some are wondering why the Orange Shirt Society wasn’t used and why a non-Indigenous artist created the design.

“It was by a non-Indigenous artist. It has an Inukshuk to represent the Inuit community, a leaf for the First Nations community and then the Métis symbol, and I think those things should definitely be done by an Indigenous artist,” said Robertson.

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“There are so many great Indigenous artists in Calgary, in Alberta and in Canada. They could’ve made that design.”

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In a statement, the CCSD said the graphic was created with in-house staff through close collaboration and approval from its Indigenous team, which includes a district elder.

CCSD stressed this was not a fundraiser for the district and that the shirts are being sold at cost plus $1 — with that dollar being donated to the Orange Shirt Society.

Heron said she has a meeting scheduled with the superintendent of the CCSD next week to discuss the issue.

There were approximately 900 shirt orders placed.

Click to play video: '2019 Orange Shirt Day commemorates the residential school experience' 2019 Orange Shirt Day commemorates the residential school experience
2019 Orange Shirt Day commemorates the residential school experience – Sep 30, 2019

Orange Shirt Day is on Sept. 30.

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