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A day of programming for Orange Shirt Day sheds light on history of residential school system
In 1973, six-year-old Phyllis Webstad of the Dog Creek reserve near Williams Lake, B.C., set out for her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School in a brand-new orange shirt her grandmother bought for her. When she arrived, she was stripped of her clothes, and never got her favourite shirt back.
“The color 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,” she recounts. Webstad’s story and her mission to raise awareness about the residential school experience is what prompted the first Orange Shirt Day in 2013.
Each year since Orange Shirt Day’s launch, organizations and institutions across Canada have been encouraged to use Sept. 30 as an opportunity to shed light on the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the process of reconciliation.