Tim Hortons and its 1,500 restaurant owners across Canada are preparing to launch a limited-time fundraising donut with 100 per cent of proceeds being donated to Indigenous organizations that support residential school survivors. The Orange Sprinkle Donut will go on sale at participating restaurants starting Sept. 30, which is Orange Shirt Day. Through Oct. 6, 100 per cent of the donut’s retail price (excluding taxes) will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

This campaign was developed with a group of Indigenous Tim Hortons owners including Shane Gottfriedson, Joe Quewezance and Mitch Shuter, who own a Tims restaurant on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nations territory in Kamloops, B.C.

We connected with Shane, former Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation chief and former B.C. regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, about the making of the Orange Sprinkle Donut.

Shane Gottfriedson, Joe Quewezance and Mitch Shuter are the owners of a Tim Hortons restaurant located just a few hundred metres from the former Kamloops residential school where the remains of children were discovered earlier this year.

For the restaurant’s team, the incident hit close to home in more ways than one. Many of them are descendants of residential school survivors.

Every day as they go to work, they have been reminded of the tragic legacy of the residential school system and the trauma still being felt in Indigenous communities.

Shane, Joe (pictured right) and Mitch's Tims restaurant, which includes unique Indigenous design elements. 

Your restaurant is within eyesight of the school. What has your experience been like these past months?

SHANE: We’ve had so many guests from all over the world coming and paying their respects to the lost souls. It’s been very emotional for the people when they come in after going to pay their respects. Some of the guests have had family members who have been lost.

It’s also been overwhelming at times for a lot of our team members. It’s been very challenging and emotional.

How has this impacted you and your employees?

SHANE: Myself and the other owners, all of our parents went to residential schools. A lot of our team members as well are descendants of residential school survivors.

It hit very close to home for us. It hit us near and dear – right to the heart. It’s been very emotional and very trying for our staff.

Everybody put a brave face on and did the best they could to serve our guests and make sure everything was taken care of.

The sad reality is kids who were removed from their home and taken to go get an education never came home and were never heard from again.

So that has definitely opened up a lot of heartache for our families and communities, but here we are today, still moving forward and still trying to make sure that our families and our communities are strong, active and vibrant.

Shane Gottfriedson outside his Tims restaurant at 490 Powwow Trail in Kamloops, B.C.

You worked with other Indigenous Tim Hortons restaurant owners on a plan for this fundraiser. What do you hope comes from this campaign?

SHANE: Number 1 is we want to raise awareness and educate Canadians about the history of Indigenous people.

We’re very proud to be raising some funds for two very prominent organizations that create social benefits for many, many Indigenous people and communities.

We want to work to help people understand what happened when children went to school and they never came home.

What’s it like for guests to know this restaurant has Indigenous ownership?

SHANE: I think it’s huge. Our community prides itself on supporting entrepreneurs and Indigenous-owned businesses.

For myself, growing up here and seeing the changes, it makes me very proud as a person to be part of the Tims family.

Joe Quewezance (left) and Mitch Shuter outside their restaurant.

For more information about the Orange Shirt Society and Orange Shirt Day visit https://www.orangeshirtday.org.

For more information about the Indian Residential School Survivors Society visit https://www.irsss.ca.