The designer of a limited edition T-shirt meant to commemorate this year's Orange Shirt Day says he was glad to see how quickly the shirts sold out.

Carey Newman is the Kwagiulth artist who created the design, which was printed on more than 1,000 T-shirts. Most of them sold in less than 48 hours.

Newman, the owner of Blue Raven Gallery in Sooke, B.C., says the quick sales show how awareness has grown about residential schools since the event first started four years ago.

'Power of story'

Orange Shirt Day takes place on Sept. 30.

It was started by Phyllis Webstad, who wore a shiny orange shirt on her first day at residential school when she was six.

When the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation student arrived at the school near Williams Lake, B.C., her clothes were stripped and taken away.

Webstad began her annual Orange Shirt campaign in 2013 and has since shared her story with thousands of Canadians. 

Newman says he met Webstad during an event for his project, the Witness Blanket, for which he designed another version of the T-shirt as a fundraiser. 

"I really believe that the power of story has a huge impact," Newman said.

"Once it's personal, it makes it important. Once it's important people are ready to make change. That's what stories do."

​His isn't the official design for Orange Shirt Day, as there isn't an official logo for the event, which has the slogan "Every Child Matters."

'Positive message'

Newman says his father also went to residential school.

He plans to take some of the T-shirts to his seven-year-old daughter's Grade 2 classroom and give a presentation.

"The thing I love about it is how it's taking a negative part of our history and the negative experience [Phyllis Webstad] had and turning it into something that can inspire people."

The design — a grouping of smaller feathers to create a larger one — is meant to represent that children come in all shapes and sizes, and they're all important. 

Newman says anyone who wants to take part in the event can still buy an orange T-shirt from the handful of organizations that have created their own designs. 

With files from Deborah Goble