For the second year running, a St. Augustine School student’s design has been selected as the national logo for Orange Shirt Day.
“At first, I couldn’t believe it,” said Charliss Santos, who designed the logo late last year as part of an art class project. “I was in shock. It really only hit me when the school posted about it.”
As part of winning the top spot, Santos, 16, heads to B.C. on Sept. 29 to take part in a range of Orange Shirt Day events, and will of course be there to commemorate the actual day in a ceremony on Sept. 30.
As for her intricate design, Santos, who is in Grade 11, explained that she focused on the richness of symbolism as the image took shape.
“I included the eagle, which is very important to Indigenous culture. There’s a child, which represents all of the children who were in residential schools, and the heart represents community and strength — they were able to come back from such devastating tragedy,” she said.
Santos said the concept for the design came to her quite quickly — in about 30 minutes.
And she’s very happy to know that her school has landed this special honour for two years in a row.
“It’s like a legacy that continues on,” she said.
“Orange Shirt Day is a day to remember all of the suffering that First Nations communities went through.
“I think it’s also good to have contests like this (the designing of the logo) to recognize what has happened in our past, and to work on fixing it so that future generations can know about it so that it won’t happen again.”
Santos said that Orange Shirt Day runs not just annually at St. Augustine, but once a month.
As for heading west, Santos is very excited to meet many of the folks that she’s been in touch with over the past months as these amazing milestones have come her way.
“I’m very excited to meet (founder) Phyllis Webstad and everyone that I have been talking to — I’ve been keeping in contact with them. It’s pretty cool.”
The Orange Shirt Society is a non-profit organization based in Williams Lake, B.C. where Orange Shirt Day began in 2013.
Meanwhile, last spring, members of the Orange Shirt Society committee came to the school to meet Santos.
“It was pretty cool to meet the community that is behind everything.”
Kelly Shimp, Santos’ art teacher from last year, explained that the Orange Shirt Society started doing a logo design contest about 10 years ago.
“It’s open to students from across Canada to submit logos for Orange Shirt Day. Typically, in our school, we will talk about what the day is about, and in my art and design class, we will look at what makes a good logo and those kinds of things.
“So it becomes one of our projects,” she said.
“In class, the students have to write about why they chose what they did for their logos. They also talk about personal relevance. So when the Orange Shirt Society looks at the logo, they also look at the intention of the student who is behind that logo,” she said. “It’s not just about being able to create it, but also about being able to communicate what the point of it is.
“Charliss is a pretty accomplished artist, and I hope she keeps doing more art because it is definitely something that is in her wheelhouse. She’s a strong student.”
As mentioned, this is the second consecutive year St. Augustine has taken the honour.
Last year, Geraldine Catalbas won the competition.
Seeing one of the school’s students come first again is such an amazing accomplishment, noted Shimp.
“We are on a roll! It’s really, really exciting. Traditionally I have 10 to 20 students that actually submit logo designs that we then submit to the Orange Shirt Society. Last year, they just surprised us and showed up here with their orange truck. It was pretty exciting.
“It’s pretty cool to say, wow, one of our St. Augustine students — one of our Ponoka students — is again being recognized across Canada for this design. It’s a pretty amazing experience for these kids, too.”
Ultimately, it’s an issue that deserves special attention — and continued attention, she said.
“Nothing is going to change if we aren’t looking at the issue. And the conversations that we have with the kids help to teach them empathy to understand the issue better.”