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 Sharon and Brian Bruyere from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba.
We connected with Sharon and Brian to talk about the development of the campaign and what it means to them to help First Nations youth start building their futures.
Sharon and Brian Bruyere weren’t exactly Tim Hortons regulars before they became Tim Hortons restaurant owners.
After all, until they opened their store, the nearest Tim Hortons location to their home in Sagkeeng First Nation required a long – and, in the winter, challenging – drive down the highway in eastern Manitoba.
When the couple opened their restaurant in March 2013, it didn’t take long for lineups of people and cars to snake far out the door and down the road. Sharon and Brian relied on the strength of their community to keep guests happy and coming back.
“I knew that if you want something to work, you need to have a great team. So that’s what we did. We put really strong people in vital positions. It became a really great learning experience for us and great for engaging our community,” Sharon says. “We’re really proud of the role we’ve been able to play in helping connect some young people to opportunities and watching them grow.”
Your restaurant was extremely busy when it first opened – with how few Tim Hortons there are in the area, you must still see a lot of traffic?
SHARON: Correct. We’re like the hub of the northeast, you might as well say. That’s how I look at it.
It’s been long hours since Day 1 and ever since.
Over the years, a lot of young people in your community have worked their first jobs at your restaurant. What does that mean to you?
SHARON: You know, we have quite a few success stories and that’s what Brian and I are most proud of.
When we hire these young students, working their first jobs, we try to show them the work ethic they need, build their self-esteem, and show them that they can go out and get a job. This is a stepping stone for them to moving on to better and bigger things.
It’s great to watch them reach the goals they’re setting for themselves. We had one employee who could barely say anything – she was so shy – and now she’s our manager. And she’s very vocal.
I can’t believe the transformation that these young people go through. It really is something Brian and I take pride in.
What does Orange Shirt Day mean to you? Do you find yourself reflecting on your own experiences with the residential school system?
BRIAN: Residential school for me was pretty traumatic.
I saw a lot of hardship, for other kids as well as myself. It got to a point where I always thought I was doing something wrong.
I’ve heard far worse horror stories from the people who went before me. I think I was one of the lucky ones.
I wouldn’t wish that on anyone to go through again. I started in residential school when I was seven years old and I dropped out when I was 16 years old. That was enough for me.
Orange Shirt Day, I’ve been overwhelmed by it. It brings a lot of awareness to the survivors. It really means a lot to me that Tim Hortons owners across Canada are joining together in our fundraising campaign.
SHARON: We have to thank the Tim Hortons family for supporting such an important cause and making people aware of what transpired.
We honestly believe that this is Canada’s darkest secret. The more people we make aware of what it is, why it is, and what First Nations people have experienced and how they were impacted, hopefully a lot of the stereotyping will go away.
We’ll get there eventually, but it’s going to take time and a lot of patience.
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.
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.