Reflections on the Every Child Matters Game ‘Orange Shirt’
By Siksika Health Services Staff
On March 27th, 2022, Siksika Health Services and The Calgary Hitmen came together to host the 2nd Every Child Matters theme game, and the Saddledome was filled with orange shirts, hoodies, and jerseys.
Now like anything, there is a story behind all of this, many, all woven together to bring magic and awareness to the event and cause. The orange “shirt” that the Calgary Hitmen players and hundreds of fans donned was bred from 12 original concepts all based on the famous orange shirt. This jersey was created by Jacob Alexis and Richard Running Rabbit and features Blackfoot artwork and the phrase “Every Child Matters”.
“It’s like when you see dancers coming in for [a powwow] grand entry: the style, the boldness. Everything is placed just so,” Alexis speaks about his creation of the jersey. A truly special opportunity for artists to bring awareness to the cause and origin of orange shirt day.
“It’s surreal, I never thought the orange shirt movement would be what it is now,” remarked Phyllis Webstad when asked her thoughts at the pre-game press conference. None of this would be possible without Webstad and the Orange Shirt Society if she didn’t have the courage to tell her story countless times. “Orange Shirt Day was created to have conversations about all aspects of residential schools,” she said.
It is hard to look at the jersey and full kit and not feel something. The partnership between Siksika Health Services and The Calgary Hitmen has always been for everyone. “I’m so proud of the jersey and what the game has turned into, all aspects, I always say it’s more than just a hockey game,” Siksika Health CEO, Dr. Tyler White.
Where you can get a jersey
Jerseys can be ordered at the Calgary Hitmen store online (link: https://www.flamesport.com/collections/all-hitmen/products/hitmen-every-child-matters-jersey) and game worn jerseys are up for auction.
A portion of all proceeds from jersey sales will go towards supporting minor sports on Siksika Nation.
Orange Shirt Day
“I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school! When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! 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. All of us little children were crying, and no one cared” – Phyllis Webstad on her first day experience at residential school.
The legacy of the orange shirt is about generating awareness, and keeping the conversation going. We invite you to join us in continuing the conversation, awareness, and education about Orange Shirt Day and it’s important meaning to Indigenous peoples in Canada, and all people.