Inspired by what she had learned about resident schools, Napanee’s Cali Baldwin has designed her own orange shirt to promote the message ‘every child matters.’
A Grade 5 student at J.J. O’Neill, Baldwin created a design to bring awareness to the children who lost their lives at residential schools. When she first learned about the horrors of residential schools it hit home for her, as her great-grandmother and grandma are both Indigenous.
“Why would anyone want to take that part of someone away?” she asked her mother when first learning of residential schools. “It is the best part of me.”
The design of the orange shirt features a native child with a purple shirt that reads ‘We’re Still Here’. Above the child grows a pine tree while below it reads ‘Every Child Matters’.
“The little girl is the seed to grow the peace tree because the little girl is like the one that they found,” explains Baldwin. “She’s the seed that is growing the peace tree, the pine tree.”
With the help of her mother she launched a Facebook page, Cali’s Orange Shirt, where she’s been taking orders for the shirt ahead of Truth and Reconciliation Day. She’s already sold over 400 shirts to members of the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board as well as her J.J. O’Neill classmates, all of which plan to wear the shirts today. Neighbouring schools such as Southview Public School and Napanee District Secondary School have also purchased shirts to show their support.
“Money from the shirt are going towards buying books about residential schools and Orange Shirt Day for my school so they can learn about it,” said Baldwin.
Her hope is to provide books for her school first and then look to provide some for schools across the community.
Her grandmother will be at Ottawa’s Parliament Hill today to sell shirts and help spread her message. Baldwin plans to continue to sell the shirts year-round and any money left over will go towards survivors of residential schools.