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

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Courtney Preyser is a music teacher and librarian for several schools in Kitimat, and her passion for music and literacy shows in her work. (Clare Rayment)
In Our Valley: Courtney Preyser

Preyser grew up with a passion for music and literacy, which shows in her work and life everyday

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Clare’s Corner: Giving thanks despite the negatives

Thanksgiving may have passed, but it’s never too late to count your blessings

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Police look for vehicle after dangerous driving incident

The driver was speeding and failed to pull over for police

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Most Read