The Orange Shirt Day textbook can be purchased online through Medicine Wheel Education, Amazon and Chapters Indigo. In Williams Lake, it can also be purchased at the Open Book. The Orange Shirt Society will receive 15 per cent from the sale of each book.

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

There’s a new resource to learn more about Orange Shirt Day and the history of residential schools.

Earlier this month Joan Sorley and Phyllis Webstad could be found attending the Williams Lake Farmers Market late Tuesday afternoons promoting the Orange Shirt Society’s first and latest book Orange Shirt Day which is designed as a textbook for middle school students.

“When COVID-19 hit that’s really all we were doing was going over and over the material just to make sure we got it right and we got the history correct and everything was the way we wanted it,” Webstad said.

“I’m proud of it.”

Divided into eight chapters, the book discusses the vision that inspired Orange Shirt Day, the history and effects of residential schools and the process of reconciliation.

Observed each Sept. 30, Orange Shirt Day began seven years ago.

It all started through the vision of Esketemc First Nation’s Chief Fred Robbins who longed for all people to remember and learn what happened at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school near Williams Lake, which Webstad attended.

In 2013, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada travelled to Williams Lake to participate in commemoration project events inspired by Robbins, the book noted. It was during these series of events that Webstad courageously shared the story of her orange shirt that has now become a worldwide symbol of hope and reconciliation.

Webstad was just six years old when at her first day of residential school in 1973 her new shiny orange shirt, bought by her granny, was taken away.

“It was pee your pants terror,” Webstad said she tells students who ask her how she felt on her first day at St. Joseph’s Mission.

“If you can imagine being at the mall or the grocery store with your family and all of a sudden you don’t know where they are and that instant terror of being by yourself and not knowing what to do —that’s what it was like going to the residential school and realizing I wouldn’t be able to go home.”

Various months and days were looked at with School District 27 in which an annual day of events would be held for students to learn more about the dark history of Canada’s residential schools and the devastating impacts they had on Indigenous people.

In the end September 30th was chosen.

“I overheard an elder say that September was crying month and I knew then that we had chosen the right time of year and the right day for Orange Shirt Day,” Webstad, said noting September was the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their communities, families and homes.

Read More: Forest products company to sponsor annual nation-wide Orange Shirt Day art contest

In order to achieve reconciliation every person must make the effort to listen to the painful truths of what took place in residential schools as well as the inter-generational impacts, the Orange Shirt Day book states.

“Life can be understood backwards but must be lived forward and I always remind myself of that,” Webstad said, adding she will forever be on her journey of healing.

Most Orange Shirt Day events this year are being held virtually due to COVID-19. In Williams Lake, Webstad will be holding an online question and answer session on Orange Shirt Day starting at 11 am PST Wednesday, Sept 30.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Indigenousresidential schools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crofton was lost in the shuffle on the BC Hydro website. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus, Crofton lost in the shuffle

No mention at first on BC Hydro website during recent power outage

Cartoonist Rob Kernachan digs into the archives.
Kernachan’s cartoon flashback 2000

This one’s from the former Cowichan News Leader

BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson on the campaign trail. (Submitted photo)
BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson clarifies position on climate change

Paterson calls human activity a ‘contributing’ factor and says climate change must be addressed

Property on the Trans Canada Highway beside the Country Maples Campground has been sold and will become a modular home park. (Photo submitted)
Development, business transactions significant for Chemainus

Two highway properties and Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro sold

Chemainus businessman Chris Istace has apologized for a remark about First Nations gaming grants. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being ‘handouts’

Candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

The Cowichan Steelheads’ Jesus Martinez (left) and the Cowichan 49ers’ Daryl Rodgers chase down the ball during Saturday night’s all-Cowichan clash at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan masters derby takes unexpected turn with broken leg

Soccer community comes together in midst of battle

Larry Whetstone is concerned about the condition of Jeffries Road, where he has lived for 30 years. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Poor condition of rural road in Cowichan has resident fed up

Transportation Ministry says repair plan under development

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter. Photo supplied
Wanted man from Calgary may be on Vancouver Island

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter

Most Read