Orange Shirt Day is September 30th. This year I designed an orange shirt to honour the children who survived Indian Residential Schools - and to remember those who didn't make it home. During National Reconciliation week this year, I heard the story behind Orange Shirt Day as told by a Residential School survivor, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad (her story, below).
With Phyllis' blessing, we purchased, screened and will sell these story-telling shirts this year... and $5 from every shirt will be donated to www.ReconciliationCanada.ca to continue the work they do to support IRS survivors and their families.
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 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
The chickadees on this orange shirt are truth singers and they want to spread the word about Orange Shirt Day. Please help them spread the truth by:
- sharing this story on Facebook, Twitter or email with the hashtags #OrangeShirtDay, #Rec_Can
- consider buying a shirt for yourself and others. Shirts are hand-screened (by me) and $5 from every $20 shirt will be donated to www.reconciliationcanada.ca
- Wear an orange shirt on September 30th, take a pic then share it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the Orange Shirt Day Facebook page. Add the hashtags #OrangeShirtDay. #Rec_Can
- add the 'Every Child Matters' button to a Facebook post or profile pic on September 30th
- learn more about the intergenerational impacts of Residential Schools from survivors themselves. Visit www.reconciliationcanada.ca Watch this Shaw TV Youtube clip and sharing the link with YOUR comments about it and the hashtag #OrangeShirtDay
Big thanks to Kristin Kozuback over at Spiritlink Communications for telling me Phyllis' story and collaborating with me on this t-shirt project. Contact Kristin for more background information, resources and teaching materials for Orange Shirt Day - Every Child Matters. Read her version of the story at www.spiritlinking.com.