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Taking a Stand with Orange Shirt Design

September 21st, 2021

Description of Imagery: 

This image depicts a flying bird with rainbow wings, lined with the statements “əts ha’ stim iʔ scəcmalaʔ” and “puti kʷu aláʔ” — which translates to “every child matters” and “we are still here”. These phrases are like the wind beneath the bird’s wings that are lifting them up and supporting them — much like how such affirmations help our people rise up and soar.








Designed by Billie Kruger


In the story of “qʷʕay snk̓lip” (Blue Coyote), snk̓lip continues to battle the nʔałnasqilxʷtn (people eaters). He struggles with his mental health after the weight of his journeys takes a toll on his spirit. He is reminded by his loved ones to take care of himself to properly fulfill his purpose. He returns to the siwɬkʷ (water) where he sees a bird bathing in the river. This bird is seen after snk̓lip opens his eyes from crying and crying until there were no tears left. He sees the bird washing themselves, and is encouraged to do the same. Once washed, snk̓lip shakes his fur, creating a rainbow with the mist. siwɬkʷ is considered medicine and a release for the trauma and pain he is carrying, which symbolizes how our smallest to biggest warriors need to heal. This bird is also referred to as a “they/them” and has colouring of a rainbow on its wings as a representation of our Syilx 2SLGBTQIA+ relatives.

This imagery advocates for our inclusivity, transformation, and the importance of self-care, and was chosen for our orange shirts to carry on the healing of our people from traumatic events such as impacts from Indian Residential Schools, while reinforcing the importance of kʷu k̓ʷul̓ɬt iʔ spuʔús — taking care of your heart. In the face of such impacts, and as we grapple with the trauma created by colonial practices and institutions, we affirm that “əts ha’ stim iʔ scəcmalaʔ” (every child matters). On top of this, we emphasize “puti kʷu aláʔ” (we are still here), a testament to Syilx persistence and resilience — that even in the face of extraordinary challenges we are thriving and be here for generations to come.











About the artist:

Billie Kruger is a Syilx Okanagan Nation interdisciplinary artist from the Okanagan Indian Band. She studied at the En’owkin Center and Paul Creek Language Association, and is a beginner nsyilxcən speaker. Billie has created many works: sewing, beading, and traditional art practice. She has a strong connection to the land and her ancestors, to which she attributes her success as an artist.