A Grade 11 student from Ponoka, Alberta’s design has been chosen for 2022 Orange Shirt Day. (Orange Shirt Day Society image)

A Grade 11 student from Ponoka, Alberta’s design has been chosen for 2022 Orange Shirt Day. (Orange Shirt Day Society image)

Grade 11 Alberta student’s design chosen for 2022 Orange Shirt Day design

Orange Shirt Society and Tolko Industries announced the winner Friday, Feb. 25

A design created by a teenager from Ponoka, Alta has been selected for the 2022 Orange Shirt Day design.

Grade 11 student Geraldine Catalbas’ design is in remembrance of children who lost their lives in residential schools, recognizing the impact of their deaths, the survivors’ triumph through actions of the past, and making up for the mistakes made, noted the Orange Shirt Day Society and Tolko Industries Ltd. in a joint press release Friday, Feb. 25.

Catalbas said her design has two meanings: It’s in remembrance of the children who lost their lives in residential schools, and also celebrates the triumph of survivors as they overcome their past.

The design depicts shoes that represent the children who died in residential schools. The shoelaces coming off into an eagle represents their freedom up in the heavens and their fight through difficult times.

After seeing a memorial of children’s shoes placed on the steps of a church in Ermineskin, one of the Four Nations of Maskwacis, Catalbas wanted to learn more about what it meant.

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

“They’re still fighting, they’re still strong and they’re changing and letting know about it,” said Catalbas, who attends St. Augustine School.

“I need to make this special,” Catalbas said she told herself.

Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad told the Tribune she contacted Geraldine last week to let her know her design was chosen.

“I like the shoes in the design,” Webstad said. “They represent the children. The shoe laces spelling out ‘every child matters is there and the eagle in the design is good because it represents our Indigenous culture.”

Webstad noted when she sees an eagle and it spreads its wings, it is like a blessing or a prayer, and a protection.

“That’s what I see in the design – the eagle flying over all the children that are still at the residential schools sites across Canada that are being looked for right now.”

Webstad recalled that once the first Orange Shirt Day was being held in 2013, people were asking about shirts.

“One year I asked a person from the U.S. if I could use her design and I sold it through a shirt site. I sold 50 shirts and was so tickled,” she said, chuckling. “Every year people were asking what this year’s design was, so we were responding to their requests.”

This is the second time the society has held a contest for students aged Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across Canada to submit a design.

For her prize Geraldine will receive $200 and the expenses covered to travel with a caregiver to meet Webstad on Orange Shirt Day 2022, in Niagra Falls, Ont. providing it is deemed safe because of COVID restrictions.

Tolko pays the student for the design and the travel expenses, Webstad said.

Melissa Lundy, program manager for the Orange Shirt Day Society, said it is more than wearing an orange shirt and the society also encourages Canadians to think about where they purchase their shirt or merchandise before they purchase.

“We encourage you to ask where the money is going, how much is being donated and how much is profited from each item sold,” Lundy stated.

The society will be copyrighting designs owned by the Society going forward, which does include this 2022 design. Should anyone wish to use this design in anyway, please e-mail Lundy at programming@orangeshirtday.org.

READ MORE: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Webstad’s Orange Shirt story helps lead the way for truth and reconciliation

READ MORE: Orange Shirt Society nets national minor hockey campaign to further reconciliation

With files from Emily Jaycox, Ponoka News


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Grade 11 Ponoka, Alta. student Geraldine Catalbas is sharing the message of “Every Child Matters” in a big way as this year’s winner of the official 2022 Orange Shirt Day design. (Photo submitted)

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