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

Capitals centre Kahlil Fontana faces off against Connor Eddy of the Victoria Grizzlies during last Saturday’s game at the Cowichan Arena. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Capitals fall to Victoria Grizzlies

Caps continue to build chemistry in preseason

Chris Istace campaigning in Crofton. (Photo submitted)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

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

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring says the City Langford has lessons to share on how to deal with social issues. (File photo)
Langford could teach North Cowichan ways to deal with social issues: Siebring

Island city has only eight homeless people, according to last count

Potential designs for 85 Station St. were presented last month to the City of Duncan by the Portland-based architecture and planning firm Communitecture. (Courtesy of Communitecture)
City of Duncan considers applying for grant for Station Street project

New provincial program offers grants of up to $1 million

The bus is free to ride on Oct. 24 so voters can get to the polls to cast their ballots in the provincial election. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Free transit on Election Day in Cowichan

all day and on all regular routes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

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

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Most Read