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Where this wildfire season’s NWT Strong emblem came from

A stock photo of a grey NWT Strong sweatshirt.
A stock mock-up image of a grey NWT Strong sweatshirt.


A graphic designer’s NWT Strong logo raised $6,000 in just two days of merchandise sales as a fundraiser for United Way NWT.

When Patrick Kitchen’s NWT Strong design exploded on social media, he began producing clothing, stickers, hats, and mugs with the emblem. Twenty-five percent of profits go to the United Way, he said.

Kitchen, born and raised in Yellowknife, now lives in Red Deer and still has family in Fort Smith. After Enterprise burned in a wildfire, his father put up an NWT Strong message on Facebook.

Kitchen, who has 30 years of graphic design experience, decided to expand on the idea and produced a simple logo. 



“It blew up from there. Everybody started adding it to their social media and Facebook pages, and using it as profile images, and you name it,” he said.

Soon, people were asking for the logo to be put on items they could buy.

“I was very adamant about the fact that I didn’t want this to be a profitable venture,” he said, and so he partnered with a clothing printer that supplies merchandise to fire houses across North America.

“They have a huge charitable component built into their manufacturing process, so we were able to come up with a really strong 25 percent that we’re giving back to the United Way,” Kitchen explained.



“I’ve been doing this for a long time and the best I’ve seen is usually about 10 percent, so I pushed him for 25 percent, and then we posted the store online – and it just took off,”.

While originally there were a few versions of the logo with different community names, Kitchen felt those took away from his goal of creating something that would unify the North.

“I was very passionate about the idea of creating that same sense of community that I had when I was growing up,” he said.

“I know the North has changed a lot over the years, but I do believe that, at heart, people have the same basic concept for goodness, and supporting and helping their fellow communities.

“The merchandise is just sort-of an offshoot that I honestly didn’t even think of when I started this. It was about trying to find something that all communities could get behind to show they were supporting each other at this time.”

Since then, a few partnerships have sprung up, such as with the City of Yellowknife to create a special shirt for staff that stayed behind to work. Another group had something made for firefighters.

Patrick Kitchen. Photo: Submitted
Patrick Kitchen. Photo: Submitted

In the first two days of the merchandise launch, Kitchen said more money was already raised than he thought possible.

“These orders we’re getting are coming from all over Canada. It’s not just the evacuees that are buying these shirts for themselves … it just shows that this is a lot more important to Canadians than just the North,” he said.



Kitchen has started an NWT Strong Facebook group, which he said is “becoming a catchall for the emotional well-being of the communities that are out [of their homes].” In the group, people are discussing what NWT Strong means to them.

“I think it’s amazing that everybody’s supporting this … I do hope that the communities do stand together and continue to support each other, even while not in the North,” he said.

Ollie Williams contributed reporting.