Gitxsan artist apologizes for use of her design on lacrosse league jersey


A Gitxsan artist has accused a U.S.-based men’s professional indoor lacrosse league and two Canadian lacrosse teams of stealing her t-shirt design that honors survivors of the residential school system.

Michelle Stoney, from Hazelton in northwestern British Columbia, says the US-based National Lacrosse League and its two Canadian members, the Halifax Thunderbirds and Vancouver Warriors, are sale Orange t-shirts with a similar hand logo for fundraising purposes.

She says she first saw a Warriors Facebook post last week that featured a photo of a player wearing the jersey, with the design credited to another person.

“I can’t really explain that feeling, but it was…it was awful,” she told host Carolina de Ryk on CBC. sunrise north.

In Stoney’s original drawing created for Orange Shirt Day on September 30, 2020, the mountains and trees represent the Gitxsan Nation, the flowers represent children, and the feathers represent children who were lost in residential schools. September 30 is now a national holiday and is officially called the National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

Stoney is one of many Indigenous artists across Canada whose work has been used by online sellers and businesses without permission.

“Spilled” original creative work

Stoney says it looks like the Thunderbirds creator has “flipped” her work by outlining the hand and adding the words Every Child Matters to replace the mountain, tree and flowers on the palm of her piece.

A Google search shows that many shirts with logos similar to Stoney’s are being sold on various e-commerce platforms.

In the design created by Michelle Stoney, the mountains and trees represent the Gitxsan Nation, the flowers represent children, and the feathers represent children who were lost in residential schools. (Michelle Stoney, Gitxsan/Facebook artist)

Stoney says she’s okay with lending her creative works, such as the Native Feather Coloring Pages, to others, as long as they ask for her consent to collaborate.

Lacrosse League, Team Promise Investigation

Stoney says she contacted the Warriors who apologized and deleted their Facebook post last Thursday.

“At the time, we were using the information provided to us regarding the artist credited for the design. We understand that this information may be incorrect and have removed the post to slow the spread of misinformation,” the team wrote. of lacrosse.

The league told CBC News in an emailed statement that it was investigating the design of the t-shirt.

A now-deleted promotional photo shows a member of the Vancouver Warriors wearing the Every Child Matters t-shirt which artist Michelle Stoney claims is an uncredited copy of her work. (Vancouver Warriors)

CBC contacted the Thunderbirds for comment and did not hear back by the deadline, but Stoney says the team told him they would investigate the design of the t-shirt and promised to speak to him about this. week.

She says that while she doesn’t want to sue anyone, she wants a public apology from the team: “I want to know who exactly had the idea to take my design, because right now people blame others for it and no one is to blame themselves.”

“You can’t steal existing work.”

Michelle Stoney says she wants a public apology for the appropriation of her design. (Nolan Guichon)


Support is available to anyone affected by their residential school experience or recent reports.

A National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can access emotional referral and crisis services by calling the 24-hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.


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