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

Just Posted

Work on the Mission seniors’ centre, housing project to start in the fall

Facility consists of an 11,000 square foot community centre with 74 studios above it

Charge laid in Abbotsford motorcycle crash that killed Maple Ridge woman

Megan Kinnee, 19, died in collision on July 13, 2018

Young musicians get chance to win opening act spot at Chilliwack Fair

Three finalists will vie for top spot at the Fair’s Saturday night show

Abbotsford couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

PHOTOS: Fraser Valley Pride Celebration kicks off in Mission

The Stage hosted two events, including the fundraising dinner and talent showcase

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read