Mitchell Dokis and Kerry Lynn Peltier own and operate Green Medicine, a health food store in Duchesnay, and this afternoon they donated $3,000 to help residential school survivors of Nipissing First Nation.
The money was raised from selling orange shirts with artwork by Serpent River First Nation artist Isaac Murdoch.
“I shipped them all over Canada,” Dokis said, speaking of the shirt’s popularity, although most were sold locally within the community.
“We have already donated close to $5,000 to orangeshirtday.org,” Dokis said, noting that for this second donation, he and Peltier wanted to keep the funds local.
The fundraiser was inspired by Orange Shirt Day, which falls on September 30.
It is “a day honouring, educating, and remembering the stolen Indigenous, First Nation, Metis, and Inuit children who were imprisoned and those who never made it home from the residential schools,” Peltier explained.
“We are all grieving,” Peltier said. “We want to acknowledge and support the residential school survivors of Nipissing First Nation.”
Nipissing First Nation member June Commanda is one of those survivors. Being in residential school was an experience she “will never forget,” adding “there’s no one to tell, they don’t understand.”
She mentioned how “difficult” it was “to try to fit into our Nation again,” the residential school survivors feeling “like we’re strangers, we’re strangers in our community.”
“It’s very hard to speak out” on the schools, Commanda said, “but I do it for those that are gone, for those that can’t speak because it hurts so much.”
Chief Scott McLeod explained that the Residential School Survivor Fund goes toward raising awareness of survivors and “services and programming for some of our seniors and the ones who went to residential schools.”
“It makes me feel proud when we have some of our local business, without even being asked, contribute to the cause and help our community heal,” Chief McLeod said.
“It’s about community,” he added, “and Mitch and Kerry Lynn are showing a good example of that.”
“We want to acknowledge and support the residential school survivors of Nipissing First Nation,” Peltier said, noting that shirt sales will continue, and more donations will be made.
“Here at Green Medicine, we’re small, but we have a really big heart,” she said.
“We hope this small act of love can really help the survivors know that they are not alone, that we’re here with you, we’ll heal with you, and we stand for you.”
“We wear orange shirts all year round,” Peltier added, “and we encourage everyone to do the same to share the truth.”
Shirts are available at their store and can be ordered online through their website.