Every child matters. September 30th is a day to reflect on and encourage global conversations about Residential Schools and the tragic legacy they have left behind. It is a day to remember those who did not make it home, and to recognize the trauma that survivors and indigenous communities continue to face today.
The story of the orange shirt
Phyllis “Jack” Webstad’s Story
“I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school!
When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! 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. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
History of Residential Schools in Canada
- Government sponsored, religious schools that were built to assimilate Indigenous children into “Canadian” culture
- The schools subjected children to cultural assimilation, mental, physical and sexual abuse
- The last school closed in 1996
- 150,000 children attended these schools
- Over 6,000 died while attending these schools
- 80,000 survivors of these schools are alive today