As part of the MCA-CBSA Border Collaboration Initiative (BCI), local Akwesasne artist Joseph King was recently selected by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to create a custom design for their national Orange Shirt Day campaign. The new image will be featured on materials available across Canada to honour and remember Indigenous children who died and suffered in residential schools. The “Every Child Matters” and Orange Shirt Day campaign is held annually on September 30.
King, a lifelong artist, embraced the challenge of bringing CBSA’s vision to reality.
“I was very excited to be given this opportunity because of the impact I believe it will have on Native culture and government relations,” he said.
Encompassing First Nations, Métis and Inuit symbols and bringing the cultures together was at the vision’s core.
“Being able to bring someone’s idea to life on paper really fuels my talent,” said King, who prefers the mediums of digital, ink and lead (pencils). “A lot of brainstorming and researching went into the creation of this artwork.”
King said he did his best to represent all nations and utilized the symbol of a helping hand, and a child’s hand. He incorporated First Nations imagery, Metis imagery and Inuit and Northwest Territories imagery, for a truly diverse design.
“Working with an Indigenous artist of Mr. King’s calibre was truly inspiring,” said Nicole Elmy, Director of the Indigenous Affairs Secretariat of the CBSA. “The Orange Shirt Day cooperative art design process, in my mind, was a living example of the CBSA’s and Akwesasne Mohawk community’s shared commitment to the Border Collaboration Initiative.”
The design features a child’s hand cradled in that of an adult, surrounded by imagery representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.
“I hope that people get the message we are trying to send, which is taking care of the next generation (so that) the issues we are dealing with now do not continue to repeat,” King said.
This was King’s first political project. To view more of his work, find him on social media: Instagram (kingink), Facebook (Joseph King) or email for any inquiries.
The image is now on display at CBSA border crossings in recognition of the September 30th Orange Shirt Day.