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Every Child Matters

  • What is Every Child Matters/Orange Shirt Day?

    Orange Shirt Day is held on September 30th and began in 2013. Eight years later, The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was added to the calendar as it became a statutory holiday in Canada. The day honors the lost children and survivors of residential schools, including their families and communities with the moniker of “Every Child Matters”.

    The orange shirt comes from a story about a survivor of the Residential School system, Phyllis Webstadt. When she was six, with much excitement went to a school wearing a brand new orange shirt given to her by her grandmother. When she arrived, it was taken away, and she never saw it again. Her perspective changed forever.

    The orange shirt is now a symbol of the culture, freedom and self-esteem lost by Indigenous children over generations who attended residential schools.

    Now more than ever, players with Indigenous roots are leading the discussion and raising awareness of Indigenous lifestyles and issues, particularly about residential schools.

  • What were Residential Schools?

    Residential Schools – referred to by some in the US as Boarding Schools – were designed to assimilate Native American children into American and Canadian culture. Children were taken from their families and sent away. They were not permitted to speak their native language or practice their cultural traditions. In many instances, the children were abused or never heard from again. 

    The mindset of these schools was to “kill the Indian, save the man”.

    To this day, unmarked graves are being discovered at the sites of former residential schools across North America where it is believed many children died at the hands of the caregivers of the schools.

    In Canada, the first Residential School was opened in 1831 and the last school closed in 1996. There were a total of 139 known schools run throughout Canada.

    In the United States, there were 367 schools in total with the first school opening in 1860. 73 of those schools remain open working in a different capacity than their original intent to now properly educate children in both content and culture.

  • Where were Residential Schools located?

    There were almost 500 residential/boarding schools across North America. Many of them were located within a few hours drive of our team’s venues and our hometowns. Some of the schools closest to our team markets are below:

    • Albany, NY – Castleton Academy
    • Buffalo, NY – Seneca Mission and School
    • Calgary, AB – Sardcee Indian Residential School
    • Denver, CO – Good Shepherd Industrial School
    • Duluth, GA – Etowah Mission School
    • Fort Worth, TX – St. Agnes Academy
    • Halifax, NS – Shubenacadie Indian Residential School
    • Hamilton, ON – Mohawk Institute
    • Las Vegas, NV – St. George Southern Utah Boarding School
    • Philadelphia, PA – The Lincoln Institute
    • Rochester, NY – Thomas Indian School
    • San Diego, CA – St. Anthony’s Industrial School for Indians
    • Saskatoon, SK – St. Michael’s Indian Residential School
    • Uniondale, NY – Castleton Academy
    • Vancouver, BC – St. Paul’s

    To see a list of schools that were located in the United States, click here. For schools based in Canada, click here.

    While most of the schools were demolished, some remain as “a place where people can learn, share, heal and move forward with a greater understanding of the forces that shaped and forever changed multiple generations of First Nations people” such as the National Residential School Museum of Canada, located in Manitoba.

  • What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

    Canada organized the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to document the history and lasting impacts of the residential school system on Indigenous students and their families in 2008. It concluded in 2015.

    The TRC gathered an estimated 7,000 testimonies from residential school survivors which outlined the consistent themes and findings of abuse, malnutrition and stripping away the Indigenous identities of these children.

    The executive summary of the findings came out in June 2015 with 94 “calls to action” regarding reconciliation between Canadians and the Indigenous peoples.  The final report concluded that the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide.

    To read more about the TRC Reports and other pertinent information relating to the reports, click here.

  • Has the United States pursued Truth and Reconciliation?

    The U.S. is behind Canada on the road to truth and reconciliation. Congress did consider bipartisan legislation (S. 2907 and H.R. 5444) in 2022 that will gather facts, interview survivors, consult with experts, share public findings and issue a comprehensive report, but the term expired. We are hopeful similar legislation will be introduced during this Congress. Learn more about how you can support this effort here.

  • Shubenacadie Indian Residential School Story - Nova Scotia

    HSMBC Designation – Shubenacadie Indian Residential School from Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre on Vimeo.

    During the years between 1930-1967, over 1000 Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqiyik students attended the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. Although the building is no longer standing, the Survivors and descendants have prioritized a National Historic Site designation for the former Shubenacadie Residential School.

  • Listen to Survivor's Describe The Treatment they received and How These Schools Impacted their Lives

  • How did the NLL create the Every Child Matters logo?

    Heading into the 2022-23 NLL season, the league did an exhaustive search of Indigenous artists to help create a new logo for its league wide activation. The NLL partnered with Justin Gilbert of Kuvua Designs to work on the new concept and logo. Justin was selected due to his work in support of Indigenous organizations and his connection to the cause, being born and raised on the Southern Ute Reservation.

    After a few drafts and initial designs, both parties agreed on the design of an Indigenous child wearing a ribbon shirt and holding a wooden lacrosse trick, similarly used by players during the years the schools were established. The text “Every Child Matters” appears next to the image with a heart and feather.

    The logo can be used as a lockup or individually with the text or the silhouette. When discussing what was important in the process for designing the logo, Gilbert stated, “In this logo I wanted to celebrate the culture we as Native Americans endured to keep. Since there are so many tribes that were affected by residential schools, my goal was to represent all Indigenous people who have been impacted.”

    Specifically related to the design, Gilbert said, “We all have our own take on ribbon shirts, from Utes to Ojibway to Blackfoot and many more. Wearing them for special ceremonies, and also celebrating our culture in modern day events. Another similarity we have in common is our use of geometric shapes in our design. There are significant differences from tribe to tribe. Southern styles are more rigid compared to northern styles that have a flow to them. I created the designs on the child or more of a southern style and what I have been familiar with, and the script type has more of that flow which is more representative of the northern style of design.”

    “I wanted to uphold the cultural significance of Indigenous hair with the braid especially considering the braid was one of first things taken at the beginning of their stay at the facilities. We have overcome the effort to take our tradition and now we celebrate all we have retained.”

    To see more of Justin’s work, visit kuvuadesign.com and on his Instagram and Facebook pages.

  • What can I do to show my support or learn more?

    Learn. Ask questions. Be an advocate for the voices who are unable to share their experiences. Intent is also important, look to establish true understanding, meaning, and empathy for survivors, victims, their families and communities as a whole. Stand up for injustices you see or hear about and offer a helping hand to those in need.

    Please spend some time educating yourself about this dark period in North American history. Now more than ever, players with Indigenous roots are leading the discussion and raising awareness of Indigenous lifestyles and issues. Our community partners, The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund and The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition are a good place to start.

    If you are able, these organizations always accept donations which go towards funding their educational programs and allowing them to continue to provide more resources to survivors, educators, and others wanting to participate.

    The University of UC Santa Cruz has compiled a list of helpful resources. We also encourage you to read the book Stringing Rosaries, a collection of survivor stories.


Support the Every Child Matters Movement

With each purchase of these Every Child Matters shirts, the NLL will donate all proceeds to our two non-profit partners in the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

Community Partners