Phyllis Webstad, the woman who inspired Orange Shirt Day is being joined by members of the B.C. Government Thursday to highlight the inter-generational impact of residential schools. Gaiel Farrar/Williams Lake Tribune

B.C. Legislature shines spotlight on Orange Shirt Day

Government members are joining Phyllis Webstad at the B.C. Legislature Thursday to raise awareness about the residential school legacy and her Orange Shirt Day message that “every child matters.”

The woman who inspired the creation of Orange Shirt Day is being joined by members of the B.C. Legislature Thursday to raise awareness of the residential school legacy.

Orange Shirt Society president Phyllis Webstad was in the gallery for the morning session where she was introduced by Scott Fraser, the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and acknowledged by Cariboo Chilcotin Liberal MLA Donna Barnett.

Webstad shared her story publicly for the first time in May 2013 during a panel discussion on the residential school legacy that took place during a School District 27 Pro-D day event in Williams Lake.

She recalled how she was sent to the St. Joseph Mission residential school near Williams Lake in 1973 as a six year old, leaving her home at Dog Creek where she lived with her grandmother because her mom left to work in canneries in the U.S. and Canada.

READ MORE: ‘Orange Shirt Day’ honours survivors

READ MORE: Delburne school student’s design selected for Orange Shirt Day

On her first day of school, Webstad was stripped of the brand new orange shirt her grandmother had bought for her.

“Nobody cared that I had feelings or that I was upset,” Webstad said at the time. “It was like I didn’t matter and I think that’s what orange meant to me.”

Her story touched the hearts of First Nations and non-First Nations and resulted in the first-ever Orange Shirt Day being celebrated in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House in September 2013.

Today Webstad said she is humbled and honoured that her orange shirt story is important to so many people and that it is a vehicle for change.

“My orange shirt story opens the door to discussion on a not so easy to talk about subject — Indian residential schools,” Webstad said. “Seeing the children in their orange shirts and learning about the true history of Canada’s First People gives me hope that the lives of my grandsons will be different and better than what I have experienced in my life.”

Government members joined Webstad on the steps of the Parliament Buildings to highlight the campaign and its message “Every Child Matters.”

Since the campaign began in 2013, Orange Shirt Day events happen throughout B.C. and Canada to raise awareness of the treatment of children at residential schools.

As for the colour orange, Webstad said it is still not a favourite, but she has learned to embrace it in a positive way to remind herself that she does matter.

Just Posted

Flood risk assessment funding granted to RDN and QB

Federal government pitches in $70,000 while province to fund $80,000

Qualicum Beach rejects elimination of strata age restrictions

Councillors raised issue of town’s lack of housing strategy

Residents vocalize opposition to Parksville homeless housing

Council gives go-ahead to zoning for 52-unit project during contentious meeting

Parksville-Qualicum MLA grills minister over speculation tax

Stilwell supports RDN bid for exemption from legislation

Man dies in highway crash in Nanoose Bay

Man in his mid-60s was thrown from his vehicle, alcohol believed to have been a factor

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

SurvivorPQB supports local charity

Readers vote for their favourites and a chance to win $250 in groceries

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Cops say gun-toting robbers used fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings close to advancing

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

VSO to perform ‘Star Wars’ music while 1977 movie plays on big screen

Three shows for the classic at iconic Orpheum Theatre this summer

B.C. emergency alert system being tested Wednesday

Alarm tone and message will play on TV and radio

BC Conservatives pumped by poll results

Surge in popularity has BC party picturing elected representatives in Victoria

Vancouver Island university develops program to help kids cope with overdose crisis

A child and youth care professor worked with students to develop projects focused on children, families and communities dealing with opioids.

Most Read