Phyllis Webstad’s new book, The Orange Shirt Day, illustrated by Brock Nicol, tells the story of her experiences of attending residential school, and the story of how an orange shirt she wore, purchased by her grandmother, was taken away from her.

Phyllis Webstad’s new book, The Orange Shirt Day, illustrated by Brock Nicol, tells the story of her experiences of attending residential school, and the story of how an orange shirt she wore, purchased by her grandmother, was taken away from her.

B.C. woman behind Orange Shirt Day pens new book for teachers

Phyllis Webstad brings her book The Orange Shirt Story to classrooms province-wide.

Orange Shirt Day, now a national day of remembrance recognized Sept. 30, gains its name from the story of the orange shirt taken from Phyllis Webstad on her first day at residential school.

Her heart-wrenching and poignant story has inspired many across the province and country and around the world to engage in conversation about the realities of residential school and the wider historical marginalization of Indigenous peoples.

Now Webstad has decided to reach an even bigger audience with her book The Orange Shirt Story.

READ MORE: Dirty Laundry: I was not expected to succeed

“It tells the story of the orange shirt, how my grandmother brought me to town to buy me something to wear on my first day of Indian Residential School and I chose a shiny orange shirt,” Webstad said. “Then when I got to the residential school it was taken away and I never did wear it again. The book tells about the stuff I went through, and my experiences that year and then finally getting to go back home to granny at the end.”

Roughly 30 pages long with illustrations done by Ottawa-based illustrator Brock Nicol, The Orange Shirt Story is written to be an educational tool used in classrooms, Webstad said. To that end, editions are available in English, French and Secwepemc (Shuswap), while her book tour has a heavy focus on going directly to young people at school.

Opening with a book launch in Kamloops on Sept. 4, so far Webstad said she has travelled to schools in Kelowna, Vancouver, Victoria and Langley before returning to Kamloops this week and finishing in Clinton on the Sept. 28.

Having taken a three-month leave of absence from her work, Webstad will be heading to Alberta and Northern B.C. in October and will conclude her tour back in the Cariboo at Quesnel in November. She said that it’s very emotionally hard to do the tour, as she averages two schools a day, presenting at one big assembly before talking with two classes at each.

“I always had trouble talking, when I would speak at elementary schools, to the little ones. So my book is geared towards the elementary age, but it will be used, I think, in every grade, any grade really, because it’s a good conversation starter on residential schools,” Webstad explained.

Webstad said that the history of residential schools is not just First Nations history, but rather is Canadian history.

READ MORE: BC Legislature shines spotlight on Orange Shirt Day

She feels that everybody in Canada, be they adults or children, need to learn about what happened at these schools. The Orange Shirt Story, Webstad said, can be read as the story of every residential school survivor and, according to what some survivors have said to her, gives them a little justice in their lifetime.

Ideally, Webstad hopes her book will help influence and change society for the better when it comes to the treatment of the next generation of First Nations youth.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to educate Canadians about the First People’s, whose land that they reside on,” Webstad said.

Orange Shirt Day celebrations will take place across the country Friday.



patrick.davies@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Nikita, a four-year-old German Shepherd that was attacked by a buck in a backyard in Esquimalt Sunday is lucky the injury wasn't more severe. (Photo contributed by Suzette Goldsworthy)
Esquimalt dog owner issues alert after deer injures German shepherd

Nikita needed stitches after an early morning encounter

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest man covered in blood on heels of significant Saanich crash into woods

Resident calls in home invasion in progress after crash

Capital Regional District Animal Control say an eight-month-old Rottweiler bit a Langford mother and her child near Glen Lake on Nov. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Large dog attacks mother and child in Langford

Mother puts three-year-old on top of car to protect him

Victoria School for Ideal Education at 2820 Belmont Avenue is the second school in Greater Victoria with an active confirmed COVID-19 exposure. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Private school becomes second Greater Victoria school with COVID-19 exposure

Victoria School for Ideal Education follows Lakeview Christian School in Saanich

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read