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Forest products company to sponsor annual nation-wide Orange Shirt Day art contest

Tolko gives support to Orange Shirt Day Society
Students who win the Orange Shirt Society’s annual Orange Shirt Day art contest will now receive an in-person visit with Phyllis Webstad through Tolko Industries Ltd. Society president Jerome Beauchamp said Tolko’s contribution to the t-shirt contest is outstanding, and telling of their commitment to Indigenous communities, supporting education about residential school impact and the belief that ‘every child matters.’ L-R: Tolko woodlands manager Kevin Sytsma with Phyllis Webstad, Jerome Beauchamp and Joan Sorley of the Orange Shirt Society (Rebecca Dyok photo)

The Orange Shirt Society and Tolko Industries Ltd. have partnered up.

Tolko will now sponsor the society’s annual Orange Shirt Day art contest that invites K to 12 students across Canada to come up with an official design for Orange Shirt Day held on Sept. 30.

“Kukstemcw, thank you, Tolko for sponsoring our annual orange shirt art contest,” said Orange Shirt Society founder and executive director, Phyllis Webstad in a news release.

“Because of our partnership with Tolko, I am excited that I can now meet the winner on Orange Shirt Day every year.”

The winner will receive $200 and an in-person visit with Webstad if travel is deemed safe.

Donning a shiny orange shirt purchased by her grandmother, Webstad was stripped of her clothing including the orange shirt on her first day of residential school at St. Joseph’s Mission near Williams Lake, B.C.

“The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing,” Webstad is quoted on the society’s website.

“All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”

Moving from tragedy onto a journey of healing, it was not until May 2013 Webstad would share her story after one of two monuments were unveiled —one at Boitanio Park in Williams Lake and the other at the former site of St. Joseph’s Mission near the Williams Lake First Nation community of Sugar Cane —as part of a commemoration project spearheaded by Kukpi7 (Chief) Fred Robbins of Esk’etemc First Nation (Alkali).

Read More: Orange Shirt Society office in Williams Lake receives a helping hand

Since then Orange Shirt Day has grown into a global movement inspiring the Williams Lake-based society’s message that ‘every child matters.’

“We are proud to support the Orange Shirt Society in sharing this message with youth, and all Canadians, as we make the journey together on Indigenous reconciliation,” stated Bob Fleet, Tolko vice-president environment and forestry.

The society is now accepting entries for its 2021 contest which will close at 4 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2020.

The 2020 design representing the divine protection of a mother or father of their child was created by Grade 9 Métis student Jackson Eiteneier of Calgary, Alta.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most Orange Shirt Day in-person events, including the one in Williams Lake at Boitanio Park, have been cancelled.

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