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

Trail house fire under investigation

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Fire Rescue responded early Monday

New head of library services at Trail Riverfront Centre

Samantha Murphy filled various positions at the Trail library over the past 5 years

St. Michael’s KIDS Care Centre and Little Saints kindergarten celebrated

Little Saints Junior Kindergarten will be ready to go this fall

Historic maps reveal obscure Arrow Lake place names

Place Names: Little-known Arrow Lakes names

A hint of NHL favoritism?

“There will certainly be lots of side stories, bottom stories, involved to draw my attention.”

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read