The Orange Shirt Day Journey
Orange Shirt Day is observed annually on September 30th to honor Residential School Survivors and their families and to remember those who did not make it. It was initially envisioned as a way to keep the conversations going about all aspects of Residential Schools in Williams Lake and the Cariboo Region of British Columbia Canada and it has now expanded into a movement across Canada and beyond.
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by the story of a Residential School Survivor named Phyllis Webstad. When Phyllis was six years old she went to an Indian Residential School for the first time wearing a brand new "shiny orange shirt" bought by her Grandmother. When she arrived at the school her shirt was taken away never to be worn again.
To Phyllis Webstad the color orange symbolized that she did not matter. Today she has learned to accept the color and even have fun with it and now the orange shirt had instead become a symbol of hope and reconciliation. By wearing an orange shirt on Orange Shirt Day you make a powerful statement that Residential Schools were wrong and you commit to the concept that EVERY CHILD MATTERS.
Phyllis Webstad (nee jack) is Northern Secwépemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation (Canoe Creek/Dog Creek). She comes from mixed Secwépemc and European ancestry. Phyllis is well respected for her courage and truth telling to raise awareness about the continuing impacts of the Indian Residential School System.