Niki MacKinlay, 15, designer of the t-shirts said the circle in the background of the logo is the medicine wheel and each quarter means something significant to her — vision and respect, movement and behaviour, knowledge and feeling, and time and relationship. (Submitted photo)

Vanderhoof teen designs Orange Shirt Day t-shirts to spread awareness

Niki MacKinlay is a grade 11 student at EBUS

A Vanderhoof teen designed a t-shirt for Orange Shirt Day to create awareness of residential schools and has also created a $100 bursary from the profits of her sales, to help other fellow students.

Orange Shirt Day is held Sept. 30 to open the door to conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools.

Niki MacKinlay, 15-year-old studying full-time at EBUS, said the idea for the t-shirt came about when she attended a workshop on Aboriginal art at NVSS and needed to design a logo for her English 10 EBUS course.

She loved the design and thought she would create her own orange shirts for her family.

“I had 12 made, and my family wore them. So many people liked them and asked if they could get one, so I decided to make 36 more.”

“We had about 12 of those that weren’t pre-orders, so my mom just posted on her Facebook profile that we had a few extra. They all sold that same night and I got about 50 more people asking for one for themselves, so I put in another order for just over 100 shirts,” she explained.

VIDEO: Smithers friendship centre launches canoe to mark Orange Shirt Day

As it was a last minute project, MacKinlay said she got help from Terra-lynn Culberson at Streamline Signs & Graphics, who volunteered to stay after hours to get the shirts done.

“I designed this logo to represent who I am and what I stand for. I am Wet’suwet’en and being Aboriginal is part of who I am,” she said.

MacKinlay explained the circle in the background of the logo is the medicine wheel and each quarter means something significant to her — vision and respect, movement and behaviour, knowledge and feeling, and time and relationship.

The hands forming a heart, signify love, acceptance and community to MacKinlay.

“My name, “Nikiya”, means community or home in the Wet’suwet’en language and I want to inspire others to create community. My Dad always states that it takes a village to raise a child and I agree with this mentality. If we all look out for one another, this world will be a better place.”

“I like the use of hands in my symbol, as we all can use a helping hand at one time, and it is easy to reach out your hand to help someone. Through the selling of my orange shirts, I hope my design has inspired others to educate and be part of the reconciliation process, therefore, reaching out their hand to help someone and creating a better community,” she added.

MacKinlay says art is her passion and in the future she plans to have a career in art. She really enjoys digital painting, Aboriginal inspired art and illustration cartoon.

“I really loved creating the orange shirts, and I would like to design and sell another logo for Pink Shirt Day, hopefully creating awareness for the effects of bullying,” she said.

She is also creating a $100 bursary for one EBUS student and one NVSS students, with the criteria being that a parent, grandparent or guardian attended residential school, or for someone who has taken a leadership role in Orange Shirt Day activities.

“Residential schools still affect people to this day and it wasn’t that long ago that the last residential school was shut down. My Grandma and Papa both attended residential school and it had a major impact on their lives. Although they both had different experiences, they both lost a big part of their culture,” she said.

“They are still the strongest people that I know and I have learned a lot from them. Reconciliation is an important part of the healing process and Orange Shirt Day is a part of this, as it shows we still remember what happened and we will not let it happen again.”

Aman Parhar
Publisher/Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

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