The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford has launched a limited-edition orange shirt in support of Fraser Valley residential school survivors.
The shirts are available for $35 starting Tuesday, Sept. 20 at The Reach, 32388 Veterans Way.
They are designed by acclaimed Stó:lō artist Xémontélót Carrielynn Victor, and feature the Halq’eméylem phrase “éy kws hákw’eleschet ye stá:xwelh,” which translates to “we remember our children.”
The design honours the children who attended Fraser Valley residential schools, including St. Mary’s in Mission, which operated from 1861-1984 on what is now the site of Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park.
This summer, the Stó:lō Nation started an investigation to locate unmarked graves of Indigenous children who died at Fraser Valley residential schools, beginning with St. Mary’s.
The investigation will use ground-penetrating radar, archival research, and oral history and is estimated to take approximately three years to complete.
Survivors and others involved in this work will provide direction for the use of the funds raised through the sale of orange shirts.
The practice of wearing an orange shirt on Sept. 30 began in 2013 as a way to acknowledge the dark history and ongoing legacy of Canada’s residential school system.
Sept. 30 is now the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to honour the survivors and intergenerational survivors of the residential school system, and to remember those who didn’t return home.