A Kanien'kehá:ka race car driver has styled his car to raise awareness about residential schools during the NASCAR Pinty's series kick-off this weekend.
Since the discovery of unmarked graves at several residential school sites across Canada, Dexter Stacey made the decision three weeks ago to wrap his car in orange with an "Every Child Matters" logo on the hood.
Orange has become a symbolic colour for residential school survivors and their families due to Orange Shirt Day, founded by Phyllis (Jack) Webstad.
Stacey, 28, is from Kahnawake, south of Montreal, and said his great-grandmother attended a residential school.
"I want people to see more of the awareness because there are still some people that don't know about it," said Stacey.
As a driver who doesn't have any major racing sponsors currently, he paid out of his own pocket for the new design and and colours and plans to use them for the whole season.
"I'm hoping that [racing fans] learn more about it . . . I hope they go and do more research on what's going on," said Stacey.
Kirk Stacey, the driver's uncle, has worked as a crew chief, spotter and tire carrier on Stacey's teams over the years and is now working as a crane operator. He said he's proud of him for making an effort to raise awareness about residential schools.
"I've been going through some of the comments [on social media] and people are so happy, you know, representing Native people and representing these kids, the kids that perished in the residential schools. So for Dexter, if it's on his car, it means a lot to him."
Stickers for every team
The NASCAR Pinty's series is listed as Canada's premier motorsports division in Canada and has 11 scheduled races for this year's championship.
In order to get his car's design approved, Stacey had to send it to Cherie Putnam, the NASCAR Pinty's series director.
"I'm very impressed with what they have done," said Putnam.
Putnam said the NASCAR Pinty's series will be offering "Every Child Matters" stickers to every team.
"Everybody's keeping awareness and really showing wholeheartedly that what happened was very devastating for a lot of folks and is not washed under," Putnam said.
"It's not forgotten and it should not be forgotten."
Andy Everson, the K'ómoks First Nation artist behind the artwork on the car's hood, said he was forwarded pictures of the car and that he's proud that Stacey is representing First Nations people.
"To me, it means a lot that my artwork is being used to promote a good cause," said Everson.
"For him to show this on a race car, I think it's a whole other way for people to draw attention and reach out to the non-Indigenous spectators of the sport."
Racing fans will get to see the new vehicle design in action at the Frontline Workers 125, the first race of the NASCAR Pinty's series, at Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, Ont. on Sunday.