High School and Middle School Students Team Up to Take Action For Reconciliation

Posted: September 27, 2021

Like many things these past 18 months, Orange Shirt Day 2021 presented an unprecedented problem for those wishing to commemorate the legacy of residential school survivors and victims across Canada. In response to supply shortages due to COVID-19 and a surge in demand for orange shirts in the wake of the discovery of the remains of 5143 Indigenous children at residential school sites across the country, ASD-N students in Miramichi came up with a solution.


Middle school students at Max Aitken Academy, supported by teachers and educational assistants, and two grade 10 classes at James M. Hill High School supported by their teachers, spent the first three weeks of the 2021-2022 school year designing, tie-dying, vinyl cutting and heat pressing shirts to sell to staff and students across the district. The Orange Shirt Society (orangeshirtday.org) allows other organizations to make and sell t-shirts as long as they are orange, bear the words “every child matters” and proceeds from the sale are donated to the Orange Shirt Society. These guidelines allowed students to unleash their creativity and create a variety of meaningful designs to sell to teachers and students.


Through this project, students met curriculum outcomes in Entrepreneurship 110, Graphic Art & Design 110, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Technology as well as a number of global competencies. The work also represents a step towards meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #63, “building student capacity for intercultural understanding.”


Hear student feedback on their experience with the project:


“I bought a t-shirt because this cause is important to me. It makes it more special that I got to help make the shirt. I feel proud.” – Kady Smith (Grade 8)


“It was cool to show that our school supports it and cares about what happened and people at our school designed the logo and stuff. Because people get to create their own image of what they think it’s about and people will wear that image on their shirt.” – Katie Wood (Grade 7)


“So you can donate money to Indigenous groups and people who don’t have orange shirts can wear them.” – Sarah Baglole (Grade 7)


“You’re supporting Indigenous culture and telling them that we care.” – Ryla Corcoran (Grade 7)


“Kind of helps people who need the money from what we make off the shirts – it goes to charities. It makes me feel good.” – Jaxsen Stairs (Grade 7)


“I liked the project because it meant something. This is different – Indigenous culture is not usually talked about. We talked about Indigenous culture. We made pins to spread awareness.” – Gracie White (Grade 8)


“It’s exciting to be a part of the project. [It was different than what we normally do in school because we’re] actually getting a chance to do something helpful. – Becca Brideau (Grade 6)


“It was really cool having more responsibilities.” – Onika Gourdine (Grade 6)


A huge thank you to the district for their support of this project!

And a very big thank you to Rachael Bell, First Nations Education Lead in ASD-N, for sharing this wonderful story with us!