2023 Orange Shirt Campaign Launches with a Renewed Focus on Truth and Reconciliation

Orange T-Shirt with an illustration of a child's hand holding a strawberry in the middle.

LONDON, ONTARIO – Atlohsa Family Healing Services is proud to announce the launch of the 2023 Relighting the Fire of Hope Orange Shirt campaign. Building on the success of previous years, this year's campaign aims to further inspire awareness, encourage action, and instigate positive change in communities worldwide, while proudly promoting the message that "Every Child Matters."

From London to all corners of Canada, thousands of shirts have already been sold, spreading the vital message of support, unity, and advocacy for the end of racism. But this year, the campaign seeks to spark deeper conversations and a more profound understanding of Indigenous history and aspirations.

Our Shared Mission

Our mission, encapsulated in our new slogan #WearOrangeSpeakTruth, is to inspire all people to wear orange, not merely as an act of support, but as a commitment to learn, understand, and vocalize the truth about Indigenous experiences. We are relighting the fire of hope not just through our shirts but through our voices and commitment to learning and sharing.

2023 Orange Shirt Design

Photo of artist Stephen Maracle.

We are thrilled to announce that this year's Orange Shirt artist is Stephen Maracle, a self-taught First Nations artist from the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Tyendinaga. Steve's unique style blends Woodland artistry with his own creative interpretation, serving as a narrative of his Haudenosaunee culture.

Maracle was moved by the retelling of a profound memory from a valued work colleague. This poignant story took place on Manitoulin Island where children joyfully showed off a raspberry bush and a strawberry patch. These simple, joyous experiences were denied to children involved in the residential school system. This powerful memory, interwoven with the symbolism of the strawberry — representing love, life, ceremony, health, and heart in the Haudenosaunee culture — became the inspiration for this year's design.

Maracle’s design conveys a powerful message based on his coworker's experience, stating, “This image is representative of all of us today, our inner child. It represents reaching for our ceremonies, reaching out for love, reaching for healing. It represents those who were limited in our ways and those who came before us; we can now reclaim our power. As Indigenous people, we’ve been storytellers since the beginning of time. It was such an honour to be able to commemorate this story for this year's orange shirt."

Visit orangeshirts.ca to learn more about Stephen.

Campaign Impact

Proceeds from the sale of these shirts will directly support programs and services offered by Atlohsa Family Healing Services, benefiting those impacted by the legacy of residential schools. Atlohsa provides low-barrier, wrap-around services, ensuring community members have access to the resources they need to live a balanced life – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Commemorating Orange Shirt Day / National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Orange Shirt Day, which occurs on September 30th, commemorates the experiences of Phyllis Webstad, whose new orange shirt was confiscated on her first day at a residential school. The act symbolized the stripping of her personal identity and self-worth. In recognition of the lasting impact of residential schools, legislation has been passed to mark September 30th as a federal statutory holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We honour Phyllis, those who survived the residential schools, and remember those who did not.

Join the Movement

We encourage everyone to wear your Orange Shirts not just on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but all year round. Let it serve as a reminder to do the work, to research, and to learn. A great place to start is Atlohsa's educational website Truth Comes Before Reconciliation.

The 2023 Orange Shirts will officially launch for sale on June 21st, Indigenous Solidarity Day. Following this event, they will be widely available for purchase through Atlohsa's social enterprise, Atlohsa Gifts, both in-store at 240 Richmond St., London, ON, and online at atlohsagifts.com. The shirts will also be available on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30th. This year, group orders will be accepted as well.

We invite everyone to join us as we continue to advance the powerful message that Phyllis Webstad conveyed through her story, sparking a global movement towards reconciliation and cultural understanding. Stand with us, #WearOrangeSpeakTruth, delve into our rich and complex histories, and share these truths. Together, we can create a future where Indigenous peoples thrive.