Saskatchewan businesses prepare for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with orange shirts

Cutouts of orange t-shirts are hung on a fence outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

As the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation approaches on Sept. 30, people and businesses are preparing for a day of education, celebration and reconciliation.

The orange shirt has become a symbol of reconciliation in Canada and as a result, people are looking to pick one up.

One place known for their orange shirts is the Indigenous-owned Pebl Goods in Saskatoon.

“(We are) looking at trying to change, promote and work towards increasing and improving the lives of people,” said owner Derek Rope. “For Indigenous people living in Saskatoon and the surrounding area and ultimately across the province.”

The store sells “Every Child Matters” orange shirts for $24.00, with a portion of the proceeds going directly back into the community with the hope of educating youth on reconciliation and the struggles Indigenous people face, but also for groups to come together and have fun.

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“We definitely like to create a space where it’s safe, inviting and social,” Rope said. “And be able to provide opportunities for our community to be engaged and to enjoy wellness in the company of one another and try different things.”

Both of Rope’s parents are survivors of the residential school system, so the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day that hits close to home for him, and one of the reasons he puts so much work into the orange shirts.

“There’s a a lot that goes into this for me and for myself, orange shirt day is not just a one-day thing,” Rope explained. “It’s an everyday kind of thing.

“So that awareness and education and the promotion of Indigenous people and shining a bit of a light on the truth.”

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Other businesses are also getting ready across the province. While not an orange shirt, Hillberg & Burk have created an “Every Child Matters” necklace in honour of the day, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going towards the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

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For those in Regina, businesses such as Four Fawns Clothing and Awasis Boutique both sell orange shirts with proceeds going towards many foundations focused on creating a better tomorrow.

With just a week away until the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Rope hopes the day allows for people to come together to ask questions about the past, but also about the future.

“You can’t have  reconciliation without the truth,” he said. “I think as citizens within our communities, it’s up to us to take an active role in our own education and our own awareness and the things that we can do.

“If it doesn’t feel right, then ask a question. And I think we need to be able to create spaces for people to ask those questions.”

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