Every Child Matters – the meaning behind Orange Shirt Day

Why an Orange Shirt? Former residential school student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad has shared her story of her first day at residential school when her new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl. This act left Phyllis feeling invisible and worthless and affected the way she lived for much of her life. 

September 30th is annually recognized as Orange Shirt Day, highlighting the damage the residential school system did to the well-being of Indigenous children. Equally, it serves as a healing journey for the survivors and a commitment by all who wear an orange shirt, that every child matters. 

Chief Fred Robbins, a former student of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, BC started Orange Shirt Day to ensure that residential school survivors are not forgotten. Through his vision, Chief Robbins brought together First Nations, Tribal Councils, local government leaders, school districts, and former students to remember, recover and reconcile. Chief Robbins was recognized as a BC Achievement Community Awardee in 2017, for giving voice and hope to reconciliation in BC.  

Orange Shirt Day can be hard for those who survived residential  schools and their families. Over 150,000 Indigenous children attended residential schools in Canada from the late 1800’s until the last one closed in the 1990’s and of those attending, it’s estimated that over 5,000 died while under residential school care. Many survivors are still dealing with the trauma of abuse experienced at these schools, and the impact it’s had not just on them, but on their families as well.  

Now is the time to listen to the stories of survivors and their families and learn from them, so that these mistakes are not repeated. It is a time for conversations about understanding the survivors’ truths and beginning the journey toward reconciliation. Now is the time for an exploration of opportunities to do better for generations of children to come.  

Join the movement and remember to wear your orange shirt tomorrow. 

For more information go to OrangeShirtDay.org  

Participate virtually, post pictures, share your story #OrangeShirtDay #EveryChildMatters 

Gordon Hutchens, Award of Distinction Laureate 2019

Here at BC Achievement we deliver award programs recognizing the spirit of excellence demonstrated by the people of this province. Since our inception in 2003, hundreds of worthy artists, designers, entrepreneurs, volunteers, leaders and innovators have been elevated and celebrated for their achievements. All in keeping with our mission to honour excellence and inspire achievement throughout British Columbia.

Within and amongst these amazing individuals, there are those who are singled out for their exceptional contributions during a lifetime of achievement, these fine folks are recognized as Award of Distinction laureates.

Gordon Hutchens, ceramist, was awarded this designation for the 2019 Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design, and he is, by definition, a perfect exemplar of this award. Gordon is an accomplished artist with a comprehensive body of work, an established career and an international reputation. Gordon’s outstanding work has helped bring recognition to both his craft and the province.

Renowned for the depth and diversity of his glazes and refined forms, Gordon has inspired a generation of ceramists. To quote from the website Fired Up: Contemporary Works in Clay, the website for a select group of BC ceramic artists begun by Robin Hopper: “Gordon’s work shows a long developing exploration of form, texture and colour. He mixes together natural minerals and chemical elements and through the art of complex firings, where subtle nuances in the character of the flame can make a dramatic difference, he brings these glazes to life. Here is an expression of balance, not just physical, but the balance between control and spontaneity, traditional and contemporary, technique and creative thought.”

Living on Denman Island surrounded by the natural landscape, Gordon finds beauty all around him. “I get sustenance from the natural world; it helps feed my work and is part of my inspiration. The ocean, the rocks along the shoreline, the changing weather, the forest, the moss growing on the trees, lichens growing on the rocks” – all are unique components of his muse.

As well as working as a potter, Gordon finds ways to mentor others and share his talent and passion for the craft. Gordon teaches ceramics at North Island College in Courtenay, BC and is a regular instructor at Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts. He’s also exhibited his work across Canada, the US and in Japan. And he’s often at Circle Craft market in Vancouver, selling his pieces or demonstrating his skill at the pottery wheel.

Danika Naccarella: Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Awardee

Receiving the honour in 2017, Danika Naccarella was the inaugural recipient of the Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award in the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art program. The Award is presented to an emerging artist in honour of Emily Carr University Director, Aboriginal Programs, Brenda Crabtree and the late Bill McLennan, UBC Museum of Anthropology’s Curator Emeritus. Danika was recognized for artistic excellence in melding of classic northern Northwest Coast design with Nuxalk style, in particular for her work in traditional hand-poke tattooing and skin-stitch techniques. 

We recently reached out to Danika to see what she’s up to now. Not one to stand still, this talented First Nations artist continues to work hard and extend her artistic ability with new art forms. 

Following her studies at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, Danika now assists  with art instruction to Kindergarten to Grade 12 Nuxalk Nation youth at Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola from where she also graduated.  

When she’s not teaching, Danika is hard at work creating art in various forms including acrylic painting, digital art, jewellery, hand poke tattooing, regalia making, and carving – sometimes. Born and raised in Bella Coola, Danika and her fiancé recently purchased their first home off reserve in Hagensborg, BC where they work and live out of their cabin that serves as a studio space for Danika’s tattooing and a small carving shop for her fiancé. 

When asked what inspires her artistry, Danika reflects on her peoples’ history, “My ancestors and those who came before me have inspired me to dedicate myself to the art form. Studying the old masterpieces has set a high standard for my own practice, the pieces we see in the museum collections really are masterpieces as the ones who created those pieces had the privilege of refining their skills that were passed down for many generations. My generation has to relearn everything that was taken away from us – we are reviving what was almost wiped out.” 

Danika is hoping that her art work will inspire other young Northwest Coast artists to continue this art form and bring it even farther than where it is now, while staying true to the traditional form and learning the foundations that define the art form. “There are so many mediums of art that I want to be able to pass on to the generations after me. Not only is passing on knowledge important, it is also important to bring light to our small community, to let others know we are still here and thriving.” 

During these challenging times as COVID-19 continues to  impact our lives, Danika shares that her personal art practice did suffer a major setback. “During the beginning of the pandemic I was unable to practice hand poke tattooing – which is a major part of my practice as an artist. Commissions and larger pieces weren’t feasible to clients either due to costs – so I migrated my energy to small affordable handmade earrings. Now that our world is a lot different, many people are choosing to support locals, which is a beautiful thing. I always give back and support other artists and businesses as that helps our local economies and families.” 

Since receiving the Crabtree McLennan award in 2017, Danika is excited to share that that her practice has flourished. “I am so honoured to be awarded this title, as a young female artist in a male dominated market, it has solidified my confidence in my art practice. Being the inaugural recipient of this title was unbelievable. To have both Bill McLennan & Brenda Crabtree there was such an honour.” 

If you’re interested in Danika Naccarella’s art practice, you can reach her at her Facebook and Instagram pages and be sure to watch the film made to honour this young artist at bcachievement.com

Indigenous Tourism BC – accelerating the Indigenous economy

One of the organizations that is powering BC’s growing Indigenous economy and cultivating innovation is Indigenous Tourism BC. As a non-profit, Stakeholder-based organization, Indigenous Tourism BC is committed to growing and promoting a sustainable, culturally rich Indigenous tourism industry. Through training, information resources, networking opportunities and marketing programs, Indigenous Tourism BC is an important resource for Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities in British Columbia who are operating or looking to start a tourism business. 

As of last fall, it boasted over 200 Indigenous tourism businesses and a growth of 85% over the past 20 years. At that point it was “one of the fastest growing industries in BC, with Indigenous tourism businesses contributing $705 million each year to the provincial economy” according to Brenda Baptiste, Chair of Indigenous Tourism BC. “We are so proud of our communities and stakeholders who have dedicated their time to bringing Indigenous cultural experiences to life for visitors” she shared. 

Due to COVID-19, Indigenous tourism has felt the impact of reduced travel and many Indigenous businesses are deciding how and when to re-open to visitors. With responsible tourism now the expectation, Indigenous tourism is once again poised to reinvent itself, grow, and support BC’s economy by creating more jobs for Indigenous people and other BC residents through their activities. 

At the 2019 Indigenous Business Award Gala, Indigenous Tourism BC was featured in IBA’s inaugural ‘Spotlight Series’ developed to honour and celebrate those organizations who play a vital role in cultivating innovation and powering BC’s growing Indigenous economy. 

How youth apprenticeship in trades supports the Indigenous economy

By 2029, there are expected to be up to 861,000 job openings in BC — more than 77% of these jobs require technical or trades training. The Industry Training Authority (ITA) provides early trades training for youth, helping them secure the skills they need to find a job even before they graduate.

Given that Indigenous youth is the fastest growing demographic in the country – according to Stats Canada – we know there is a young and growing Indigenous population in BC which is an “untapped” resource to drive the future of the economy.   

The ITA helps bring trades training to youth and by doing so, they are also helping the Indigenous economy by supporting this growing Indigenous youth segment. Through its many programs the ITA works with employers, apprentices, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, support apprenticeships, fund programs, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades. 

Thanks to the efforts of ITA and its community engagement last year over 3,000 Indigenous apprenticeships were underway in our province. 

Andrew George, who served ITA as an Apprenticeship Advisor from 2014 until 2019 when he left to begin an Indigenous culinary program outline at NVIT, – is extremely proud of ITA’s accomplishments, citing that when he began at ITA there were 50 Indigenous apprenticeships. By the end of 2019, it had surpassed 3000! 

At the 2019 Indigenous Business Award (IBA) Gala, ITA was featured in IBA’s inaugural ‘Spotlight Series’ developed to honour and celebrate those organizations who play a vital role in cultivating innovation and powering BC’s growing Indigenous economy. 

ITA works with a community-based network of Indigenous community training and employment service agencies across the province and with trades jobs opening up over the next decade, never has there been a better time for Indigenous people to enter skilled trades.