Ponoka Student Wins National Orange Shirt Day Design Contest

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Géraldine Catalbas, 11th grade student

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, it shouldn’t make any difference because we are all human beings, and we should treat each other with respect and kindness”

Fans across the country will wear a t-shirt designed by St. Augustine School student Geraldine Catalbas on this year’s Orange Shirt Day.

Catalbas, a grade 11 student, created the design that will be featured on t-shirts produced by the Orange Shirt Society to support residential school reconciliation and raise awareness of the intergenerational impacts of residential schools.

“It was quite surreal and very unexpected,” says Catalbas. “I was very happy to hear that my design had won! »

After seeing a children’s shoe memorial placed on the steps of a church in Ermineskin, Catalbas wanted to know more about what it meant.

She also decided to create the design to honor the parents and grandparents of her First Nations friends who are residential school survivors.

The design of Caltabas represents shoes representing lost children. The laces follow the shape of an eagle, symbolizing the eternal freedom of these children in the afterlife.

The design has a dual meaning, intended both to honor the memory of Indigenous children who died in residential schools and to honor the strength and resilience of generations of survivors.

“The first meaning is the children who died and the hope that they are in heaven with God,” Catalbas explained, adding that she was also inspired by a desire to represent surviving parents and grandparents of residential schools. Indians from his First Nations friends.

“They showed me that although they have been through the unthinkable, they still create change, fight back and show they haven’t lost”

Catalbas will receive a $200 prize for their winning design and will also fly out to meet Phyllis Webstad, founder of Orange Shirt Day, on September 30.

“I love shoes in design,” Webstad said. “They represent children. The shoelaces spelling out “every child matters” are there and the eagle in the design is good because it represents our native culture. »

Orange shirts are worn to commemorate Webstads story from his first day at residential school when his shirt was removed – it has now become a way of honoring and remembering all residential school survivors, intergenerational survivors and of those who never returned home.

Each year, Indigenous and non-Indigenous children from K-12 across Canada can submit a drawing for the official Orange Shirt Day contest.


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