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Grand Forks resident’s design featured for college’s Orange Shirt Day

Payton Maffioli’s design honours Metis roots
Grand Forks’ Payton Maffioli shows off the design she created for the Selkirk College Orange Shirt Day campaign. Submitted Photo

A shirt designed by a Grand Forks resident will be worn across the Selkirk College region for Orange Shirt Day.

The chosen design by student Payton Maffioli features two bear pawprints, a smaller cub’s mark inside the mother’s protective imprint is surrounded by a sacred circle that includes two feathers and the words “every child matters” written in the language of the Secwépemc peoples.

A student in the Recreation, Fish & Wildlife Program at the Castlegar Campus, Maffioli was inspired by her Métis culture and a desire to create a more sustainable future.

“It makes me want to cry, I’m really proud to have this design on the shirt and in the community,” stated Maffioli in a news release. “This goes beyond a shirt, it needs to be in everyone’s hearts and everyone’s minds what truth and reconciliation is… what protecting our children should be. I am very passionate about strong futures for children and it makes me very emotional.”

The 2023 shirts are now available at the Selkirk College bookstore with proceeds and donations going to the Orange Shirt Society and the Kuu-us Crisis Line.

Maffioli grew up in the Grand Forks area where she was drawn to activities involving Indigenous art and culture at an early age. In middle school, an aunt traced her father’s lineage to a great-great-great grandmother who was an orphan in Manitoba’s Red River Colony.

“Selkirk College Elder Donna Wright says when we are born into this world, we belong already because of the air that we breathe,” Maffioli says. “When I found out that I was Métis, I felt like I belonged even more. This culture that I have been learning about since elementary school, it has always held such a deep part of me and I didn’t really know why. When I found out, it made so much sense because it is part of me… it’s who I am.”

She connected with Indigenous Elders in high school and helped provide education to peers through art, craft, drumming and understanding of the past.

Maffioli graduated from Grand Forks Secondary School in 2022, with a commitment to continue strengthening her knowledge in college, while working towards a career in environmental law through the School of Environment & Geomatics.

Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 when Phyllis (Jack) Webstad began telling the story of her first day at residential school at six years old near Williams Lake when her brand-new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken away from her by school staff.

In 2013, Sept. 30 was declared Orange Shirt Day by the federal government as a day for people to show their support for residential school survivors and have conversations about the legacies of that time.

“Wearing orange symbolizes the loss that we have gone through, it symbolizes the rage and anger we have felt from losing our children and having families torn apart,” Maffioli explained. “But orange also symbolizes hope, the truth and reconciliation that we can bring into our communities. What Indigenous people went through was genocide and people may think that it was in the past, but it still impacts Indigenous populations. We need to work together to make this better.”

Learn more about Selkirk College’s 94 Days of Education & Action that is leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 at:

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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