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

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

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

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
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

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

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read