Orange Shirt Day — Canada, September 30

This is passed on to me from Matthew Stevens. It was new to me.
I want to remember these children! Maren

Matthew writes: This information is circulated with thanks to John Bird and George Montour for sharing. Please also understand that in sharing this information I am not personally endorsing or advocating on behalf of the content. Miigwech & zhawendaagozi.

Rev. R. Matthew Stevens
London Conference, United Church of Canada,

Here’s something simple you can do to express your support for Residential School Survivors – and for those who didn’t survive. This seems to be a regional initiative, but we can help it become something national.   Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story below really brings it home. Wearing an orange shirt might give you an opportunity to share this story, and another insight into the devastation of residential schools.

Join the Cariboo School Districts 27 & 28, the Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake and wear an orange shirt on Monday, September 30, 2013.  We will honour the children who survived the Indian Residential Schools and remember those that didn’t.  Every Child Matters. We will wear orange shirts in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters.

The story behind Orange Shirt Day:

I went to the Mission for one year. I had just turned 6 years old.  We never had very much money, and there was no welfare, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a now outfit to go to the Mission school in.  I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had eyelets and lace, and I felt so pretty in that shirt and excited to be going to school!  Of course, when I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt!  I never saw it again, except on other kids. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! Since then the colour 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.

I finally get it, that the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years.  Even now, when I know nothing could be further from the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter.  Even with all the work I’ve done!

I am honoured to be able to tell my story so that others may benefit and understand, and maybe other survivors will feel comfortable enough to share their stories.  I want my orange shirt back!

Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, Dog Creek BC

Phyllis’ orange shirt is a symbol of so many losses experienced by those who were sent to Indian Residential Schools over several generations. Losses of family, culture, language, freedom, parenting, self-esteem and worth were experienced by everyone. Beatings, sexual abuse and neglect plagued many.  Let’s not forget the children but honour them on September 30.  If you want to find out more, go to and read the book by Bev Sellars, They Called Me Number One.  


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