T-shirt design by 12-year-old girl from Apex raises money for new school in Kugaaruk, Nunavut

Karena Watson has designed a T-shirt that is being sold in a store in southern Ontario, with proceeds being donated to rebuilding the school in Kugaaruk, Nunavut, that burned down this spring.

Store in Stratford, Ont., sells out of its first batch in less than a week

Karena Watson, 12, came up with a design that includes a traditional Inuit dog team and a caribou inset on the Canadian flag. (Submitted by Aaron Watson)

Karena Watson's T-shirt design is selling out at a southern Ontario clothing store, with all the proceeds going to rebuild the school in Kugaaruk, Nunavut, that burned down this spring.

Jackie Catania, who co-owns Treasures in Stratford in Stratford, Ont. wanted to do something to commemorate Canada's 150th anniversary and was looking for an Indigenous artist to create the design.

She reached out to her contacts and heard back from her friend Aaron Watson, who used to live in Stratford, but moved to Apex, just outside of Iqaluit, 13 years ago. He suggested his daughter Karena, 12, as a designer.

"I started with a sketch of what came to mind and I fixed it by tracing it on a window so it would be more centred, then I outlined it and coloured it," Karena Watson said.

Based on an Inuit qaujimajatuqangit — traditional knowledge — principle, the T-shirt reads "piliriqatigiiniq" in Inuktitut which means "together we achieve more."

Based on an Inuit qaujimajatuqangit—traditional knowledge—principle, the T-shirt reads 'piliriqatigiiniq' in Inuktitut, which means 'together we achieve more.' (Travis Burke/CBC)

The design sets caribou and a dog sled team against the backdrop of a Canadian flag.

"To me, as soon as I saw it, it's a story of inclusion," Catania said. "I love that it has the different writing on there ... I love the traditional images on there, mixed with the Canadian flag. So that everything combines together, which, to me, is perfect."

Catania said the first print run of 25 T-shirts sold out in less than a week. The sizes range from kids to adult double extra large. She's ordered a second run and estimates about 30 to 35 have sold.

So far through donations and shirt sales, the store has raised just over $300 for the school.

The school was chosen as the recipient because, with Karena Watson being 12 years old, Catania wanted to do something for youth that would also benefit the Inuit community.

Catania says she's been shipping T-shirts "all over the place" and will continue to stock the shirts as long as they're selling.

With files from Eva Michael