Content warning: This story contains content about Canada’s residential “schools.” Please read with care.
A local tattoo artist is raising money for residential “school” survivors by selling shirts inspired by her family and history.
Amie Easton, owner of JuggerBean Tattoo Parlour, has teamed up with Gianpiero Furfaro, owner of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, to create two limited edition shirt designs that are currently for sale in honour of Orange Shirt Day. The day, which takes place Sept. 30, is intended to reflect on the effects of residential “schools” and their legacy.
Easton’s family is from the Liard River Band and she herself has experienced the legacy of residential “schools” — her great-grandmother attended one.
“I grew up with my great-grandmother, but not a lot of our family did because our family’s very displaced,” Easton said. “As I get older, I can really understand the intergenerational trauma that happens.”
Easton said over the past few years she’s made it her mission to learn more about the culture that was taken from her family. She started by obtaining official Indian Status from the Government of Canada.
She’s also been learning more about her family through a book written about Easton’s great-grandmother, Aggie, and great-aunt, Mudgy, and their journey being taken to a residential “school” 1,600 kilometres away from their home.
“It’s written from the perspective of a grandmother telling her kids and sharing the story for the next generation, so I really appreciate that,” Easton said. “I find that a lot of the mental health [issues] in my family came from not having a community and trying to put the community back together now.”
The shirt designs are inspired by this story, depicting Aggie and Mudgy as children. All proceeds will go towards the Residential School Survivors Society and local Indigenous family services.
Easton said she want this to be an ongoing project, with new designs by other Indigenous artists each year.
“I don’t want it to just be me, I want people to want to be a collective on this and start coming out of the woodwork with their art,” Easton said. “We just really want to encourage more of that culture up here, especially in the shop too.”
This year’s shirts will be available until mid-2023 and can be purchased through the JuggerBean Tattoo Parlour website. To see more of Easton’s art and tattoo designs, check out her Instagram at amieeastontattoos.