A Grade 8 student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary has designed the logo for the Surrey school district’s orange shirts for the first National Day for Truth & Reconciliation (Sept. 30).
Austtin Khan, according to the district, designed the logo during a project in his Grade 7 year at Simon Cunningham Elementary, which he said was inspired by a video he watched onling on how to draw a bird.
Austtin said he designed the logo in memory of a friend.
“One of my friends passed away and his favourite bird was a raven, so I decided to do a logo of a raven,” said Khan. “I was mostly surprised that it was picked for the shirts, I didn’t think it would actually be used on anything.”
The district says that in previous years the logo for Orange Shirt Day, which is also Sept. 30, is usually created by the Aboriginal Learning Department, but department principal Juanita Coltman decided to showcase Austtin’s work this year.
“[Former district principal] Gordon Powell used to design it, but instead of me doing it, I thought it would be great to have a student design it,” she said. “Our support staff told me about Austtin’s design and I reached out to the principal about using it on the T-shirt.”
The Canada India Education Society (CIES) recently donated $7,501 to the department, according to a post on the district’s website.
CIES executive director Barj Dhahan presented a cheque to the school from money contributed through the “Leaders of the Heart and Mind” summer fundraiser held by the charitable organization, which featured L.A. Matheson teachers Gurpreet Kaur Bains and Annie Ohana as guest speakers.
“There’s a lot of collaboration that’s come with the relationships we’ve developed over the last few years with outside partners who are interested in supporting our students,” said principal Kirsten Farquhar.
“Initially, it was through Punjabi culture but then in learning from our teachers where there is lots of passion for Indigenous communities, that led to their idea for this summer fundraiser for the Aboriginal department.”
The school’s department “aims to improve the success of Indigenous students by advancing literacy; increasing awareness and understanding of aboriginal history, traditions and culture; enhancing students’ sense of belonging; and increasing the graduation rates of Indigenous students.”
The district notes it also works to increase Aboriginal content in the curriculum in a way that benefits all students.
“Right now, the focus is interweaving the Indigenous ways of knowing into all classes and all subjects, but we’ve found we need to start with the student voice themselves,” said vice-principal Sue Boucher. “We need to step up and create a school that is relevant, respectful, creates belonging, and that’s a lot about our work. We’ve come in this year to really try and ensure that we empower and create belonging and community.”