Colour, culture and conversation

Mid season – Every work day, we receive new items for consignment. Sparingly, since we are half way the spring/summer season.

Just finished with processing all the winter donations we are slowly gearing up for our fall/winter collection. Retail needs to be always ahead of the season you see in your backyard.

As a consignment store we have the privilege to be able to offer ‘fresh’ seasonal items through the correct season as well. This because our consignors bring in items spread out over the season.

This week a lovely silk blouse was brought in. A little leaning to vintage in a beautiful saturated orange. A Popsicle, flaming orange, I had to take it.

The colour orange speaks to me as a Dutch girl. It brings memories of Queens’, and now King’s-day celebrations, skating events and soccer championships. An overall happy, heart warming, festive feeling so to speak.

This cultural tradition and connection with a specific colour has made me think. Would there be a Dutch soccer fan who desperately needs an orange shirt? Do I save it for a Dutch folklore day?

Then I remembered and started to read into it…

I knew in Canada the colour orange is connected to a different story. It is being braided into the story of this country. It is the story of a little indigenous girl.

She looked full anticipation to her first day of school in September 1973 and experienced humiliation and discrimination. Her ‘first day dress up’ school clothes (which included a bright orange shirt) were deemed inappropriate to wear by the authorities at the residential school and discarded. They were never returned to her.

Orange shirt movement

This girl, Phyllis Jack Webstad, started to tell her story in public in 2013. It started the orange shirt movement.

It is a call to remember and acknowledge the traumatizing experience many indigenous children and families endured in that era by the hands of authorities and people in Canada.

This weekend I learned that this year for the first time September 30 is announced to be a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate the legacy of the residential schools.

The orange shirt became a symbol and reminder that ‘every child matters’ no matter their background.


The silk, orange blouse in the store. The culture of the viewer can define the meaning of the orange colour in different ways. For the informed observer it can speak more than one language.

This situation brought home the thought how openhearted we need to be in our conversation. That it is easy to offend without knowing; that not every word is meant the way you interpret it. We all speak with the language of experiences connected to events in the past, even connected to colours…and our trains of thought can be light years apart. We can only know by asking for the “why” when we don’t understand what our neighbour is doing.

It is easier to bear with each other when we have taken the time to get to know each other – even rejoice in the loud annual party next door

– or to be still and stand with those who mourn…

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