The humble t-shirt, with its origins in underwear and workers’ clothing, had become part of everyday dress and advertising by the 1950’s. At the Grand Opening of the Aanischaaukamikw, the humble red t-shirt stamped with the institute’s logo became much more significant. At first, it identified staff and then became part of the visitor experience as well. Near the front door of the new building a table was set up where guests were invited to leave their names and addresses for use in our future mailing list, and then received a t-shirt. Staff hurried to meet the demand as they distributed several boxes worth of t-shirts after only a few hours of opening.
By day three of the event, it was almost impossible to take a group shot anywhere in Oujé-Bougoumou without seeing at least one person wearing the t-shirt. Elders, kids and even performers on stage wore the t-shirt.
We were all touched by the warm and active participation of local people, visitors, and guests in the Grand Opening events, and the t-shirt came to symbolize the extent to which everyone not only seemed involved but were truly celebrating in the accomplishment that is Aanischaaukamikw.
Photos by Gaston Cooper and ACCI