The Story of Orange Shirt Day
* Content warning *
This post contains information about residential schools. For helplines and support, scroll to the end.
When Phyllis Webstad was six years old, her grandmother gave her a shiny, new orange shirt. She wore it proudly on her first day of mission school.
When she arrived, the staff took away her clothes and she never saw her orange shirt again. She states that: ever since, "the color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing." As a survivor of the residential school system, Phyllis went on to found the Orange Shirt Society with others. Orange shirts symbolize the suffering inflicted on Indigenous children at residential schools, and the importance of advocating for the rights of Indigenous children.
This Saturday is a day to honour Residential School Survivors, and the children who never made it home. It is also an opportunity for us to think about how to unlearn our colonial worldviews and enact changes in our daily life.
Join us in our journey of unlearning.
Reference: Phyllis’ Story - Orange Shirt Society
Image: Child Care Programs at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House are running activities for Orange Shirt Day.
More about Orange Shirt Day:
- Phyllis Webstad - On Orange Shirt Day video
- Resources - Orange Shirt Society
- Books by Phyllis - including children's books
Helplines and Support:
- The Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS): 1-800-721-0066
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
- Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
- Sunshine Coast/Sea to Sky: 1-866-661-3311
- Seniors Distress Line: 604-872-1234
- Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
- Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)