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Fredericton Business Gets National Recognition As Part Of Orange Shirt Campaign – Huddle Today

FREDERICTON – A Fredericton businesswoman’s personal stake in an Indigenous campaign has drawn on local talent to support the national-level cause.
Beth Crowell is the owner and founder of Mayday Print and Swagshop and the force behind the iconic garments that honor truth and reconciliation, as part of the General Motors (GM) Orange Shirt Day Campaign.
“Every year they have a group of volunteers that GM puts together and they sell these t-shirts to their employees and former employees and dealerships owners all across Canada,” said Crowell.
GM’s campaign is part of a wider movement across the nation of events that support the Indigenous-led campaign that honours recognition, remembrance, recovery, and conversations about the legacy of residential schools in Canada.
To design the t-shirts, Crowell enlisted Welamoktok First Nation-based Mi’kmaq artist Robin Paul.
“She has been painting and drawing for over 20 years now,” said Crowell of the artist, who is originally from Newfoundland.
Crowell told Huddle the symbolism-rich artwork on the t-shirts features the silhouette of an Indigenous child with braided hair to symbolize sweet grass – a medicine of Indigenous culture that represents the healing of mind, body and soul – and symbols that represent First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples.
Crowell found Paul by reaching out to Nujintuisga’tijig E’pijig, a sales platform made by Indigenous women and launched by Women in Business New Brunswick – a group of which Crowell is a member.
“I contacted her, and she submitted illustrations and I showed them to GM and they chose the one they wanted. It makes it all the more special we were chosen to do this campaign, helping local female aboriginal artists.”
The t-shirts will be sent out to 470 GM dealerships – and hundreds of individuals who are supporting the cause – across Canada.
“A lot of the shirts are for single buyers – people working from home, retired and family members who want to get them for other people,” Paul said.
The Indigenous connection came naturally for Crowell, who dug into her family history after her father passed away in 2017 and discovered her own Metis heritage.
“I always knew I was aboriginal, or mixed-blood like Metis, but when my father died I had this big empty spot – I was the one who looked after him for the last 11 years, and if you’re a caretaker you always have someone there, and then they’re gone,” she explained.
“It was after that that I started researching my heritage and had my genealogy done by the Metis Centre of Canada,” she added. “They sent me a package which tells about relatives all the way back to the twelfth great-grandfather, along with some stories about relatives too – it was very eye-opening and emotional trying to find out about all of this.”
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Crowell said that while her father and his siblings never went to residential schools, some of her aunts did. She learned their history after reconnecting with her family in Manitoba and British Columbia.
Crowell said registering Mayday as an Indigenous business was what led to GM discovering her and contacting her to participate in the campaign.
Mayday, originally just called Mayday Print, was launched in 2003 and only did printing until about a decade ago, when the business rebranded and started specializing in all kinds of promotional products, everything from mugs and bottles to bags and luggage tags.
Mayday recently provided swag for this year’s Kiwanis convention in Fredericton.
Crowell noted that the swag side of the business is seeing increasing growth every year, while the printing side is showing steady decline.
Mayday draws on gear and materials from numerous different suppliers from outside the province.
“We have three or four different suppliers of t-shirts and apparel. Our products come from different suppliers all over Canada, with the bulk of them being in Quebec and Ontario,” said Crowell.
In addition to the satisfaction of helping GM raise awareness, Crowell was inspired to start her own Orange Shirt Campaign.
“We contacted local artist Brendan Mitchell, and we’re going to produce orange shirts for him, and the proceeds are going toward the Wulastukw Elementary School in Kingsclear,” she said.
Sam Macdonald is a Huddle reporter in Moncton. Send him your feedback and story ideas: [email protected].

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