Community comes together for Orange Shirt event at Galt Museum

The Galt Museum and Archives hosted an Orange Shirt design event on Wednesday, sitting in with Elder Blanche Bruisedhead, Blackfoot cultural interpreter at the Galt, to learn more about Indigenous culture and the importance of Orange Shirt Day.

The event looked to open doors between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, raising awareness for Reconciliation Week in Lethbridge, while giving attendees the opportunity to have something personal to wear on National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Friday.

“This is our Week of Truth, this is the second time we have done an orange shirt design this week,” said Kristin Krein, community program coordinator for the Galt. “When there is a symbol of something, like Phyllis Westad’s orange shirt, there can be barriers to participating in things like Reconciliation Week, when we want to have something representing that. So, it is wonderful to have an opportunity for our creative community here making an orange shirt, and learning about what the symbol means.”

Speaking to the community, Bruisedhead spoke to participants about the Blackfoot culture, opening up doors between the many cultures found in the city.

“Lethbridge, and most of Alberta, was known to my people, Blackfoot people, as our homeland. We have been neighbours for many years,” said Bruisedhead. “There is still a stigma, a fear, that was introduced to keep the two nations apart. When they should have been working together, to bond and really connect.”

Bruisedhead notes events like reconciliation help break down the barriers and propel both cultures forward.

“Both sides get acquainted with each other, learn and come together. Don’t be afraid to reach out and become friends,” said Bruisedhead. “Let’s educate each other and become good friends.”

The event helped towards that goal, with a large turnout of people, around 87 participants.

“I’m absolutely blown away by the folks here today,” said Krein. “This is the Week of Truth with free programming, so I hope that people new to this space come back for regular programming. I’m hoping to engage with them and also celebrate other cultures coming together.”

Those in attendance will wear their creations September 30 to show support for Every Child Matters and those that were affected by the residential school system.

“They came up with Orange Shirt Day to signify the importance that children come to us and they are our futures,” said Bruisedhead. “The orange shirt is an emblem, that all children matter.”

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald