An art installation on display this week in the Leddy Library honours Orange Shirt Day.
Located in the library’s main stairwell, the installation contains roughly 6,000 small orange shirts strung together to acknowledge the unofficial number of unmarked graves of Indigenous children found on the grounds of former residential schools in the U.S. and Canada.
Created by the library’s communication co-ordinator, Marcie Demmans, and the library’s Public Relations Committee, the installation is intended to increase public awareness of Orange Shirt Day and the history and effects of the residential school system.
“While the number of residential school-related deaths remains unknown due to incomplete records, there are estimates that there are over 6,000 unmarked graves found to date,” said Demmans. “Each shirt represents the spirit of the child, returning to the creator.”
While the installation can be viewed from a variety of angles, the committee invites patrons to observe it from the bottom of the stairwell looking up toward the sky.
“As a library we certainly have many resources for individuals to borrow and learn about the history and impact of residential schools, but the challenge is getting people to stop and pay attention,” said Demmans. “Our goal was to make something that would invite you to stop, admire, and entice you to learn more.”
The display features a QR code directing visitors to the library’s resources and the University of Windsor’s main Orange Shirt Day webpage. In addition, a reflection bench has been set up near the display with books about Orange Shirt Day and residential schools to allow visitors to stop and learn while viewing the installation.
“It was truly a group effort to bring this vision to life,” said Demmans. “My colleagues were eager to assist and were able to cut out all 6,000 orange shirts in a matter of weeks.”
The installation will be on display until Oct. 15.
For more information about the Orange Shirt Day installation, visit the library website.
UWindsor president Robert Gordon and senior advisor on Indigenous relations and outreach Beverly Jacobs present a message on Orange Shirt Day encouraging members of the campus to wear orange and participate in observances. Watch it here:
Among the campus events are:
- Let’s learn about the importance of Orange Shirt Day, Wednesday, Sept. 28, online at 10 a.m. Learning about Orange Shirt Day, how it began, and what it’s grown into nationally.
- Mt. Elgin Residential School: Sharing my Grandmother’s story, Thursday, Sept. 29, in room 1232, Centre for Engineering Innovation, 2 p.m. Jaimie Kechego shares her grandmother’s experience attending Mt. Elgin residential school.
- Systemic Injustice: Mascots, Human Rights, and Indigenous Racism, Thursday, Sept. 29, in room 203, Toldo Health Education Centre, 6 p.m. A screening of the film will be followed by a discussion with director and producer Brad Gallant, a doctoral candidate in sociology.
- Every Child Matters Walk, Friday, Sept. 30, will leave from Art Windsor-Essex, 401 Riverside Dr. West, at 10:30 a.m. and will conclude at the David Wilson Commons for the Orange Shirt Day Drum Social Teach-In, from 1 to 3 p.m.