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

The two sites in question included a number of commercial buildings, some of them currently boarded up. (Langley Advance Times files)
Deal to add Fort Langley land to Kwantlen reserve called off

Elders and a land advisory group within the KFN opposed the project

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

Dwain and Lillian Seymour discovered their Murrayville home was listed for rent without their knowledge as part of a scam. (Langley Advance Times/file)
Guilty plea in Langley rent fraud case

Arrested man admits to 14 criminal counts

Police boats were called in to search the Fraser River after a report that a plane had crashed where the river runs between Langley and Maple Ridge. (Shane MacKichan/Special to The News)
Investigation enters final phase, missing aircraft last seen over Fraser River

Small aircraft was carrying a student and instructor on June 6

Trinity Western University students Nyssa Morgan and Braedon Sunnes take their comedy improv night online for the world to see. (TWU/Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: In year of uncertainties, Langley students try to lift spirits with laughter

TWU students brought 30-year-old comedy improv tradition online

Mary Foote (right) took part in the Gutsy Walk in August 2020 at the age of 104. She was joined by son in-law Clarence and daughter Edith Olson. (family photo)
Langley woman turns 105 on Oct. 25

In August, Mary Foote took part in the Gutsy Walk to battle Crohn’s and Colitis

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

The many faces of Daon Glasgow. (Photos: Surrey RCMP)
Glasgow found not guilty of trying to murder transit cop in Surrey

Transit Police Constable Josh Harms was shot Jan. 30, 2019 at Scott Road SkyTrain Station

Most Read