Phyllis Webstad


Orange shirt day is a movement that officially began in 2013 but in reality, it began in 1973 when six-year-old Phyllis Webstad entered the St. Joseph Mission Residential School, outside of Williams Lake, BC. Young. Webstad was wearing a brand new orange shirt for her first day of school – new clothes being a rare and wonderful thing for a First Nation girl growing up in her grandmother’s care – but the Mission Oblates quickly stripped her of her new shirt and replaced it with the school’s institutional uniform. Even though she only attended the residential school for a year the impact affected Ms. Webstad’s life for many years. She went to a treatment center for healing when she was 27 and has been on this healing journey ever since. “I finally get it, that feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years. Even now, when I know nothing could be further than the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter.” Phyllis Webstads story is one of many residential school survivors, and today we wear orange shirts for each and every single one of them as well as those who who are unfortunately not with us anymore.

Orange Shirt Day – September 30th


What is Orange shirt day?

Orange shirt day is a day devised to educate people and promote awareness about the Residential School System and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada as well as the continued impact of this system within Indigenous communities. Orange Shirt Day is held on September 30 in Canada with students and staff being encouraged to wear an orange shirt to school that day.

Why is September 30th orange shirt day?

September 30th falls during the time of year when Indigenous children were taken away from their homes and put into residential schools.

Why an orange shirt?

The “orange shirt” in Orange Shirt Day refers to the new shirt that Phyllis Webstad was given to her by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in British Columbia. When Webstad got to the residential school, she was stripped of her clothes, including her orange shirt and it was never returned. To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of her experiences at the residential school.

What does Orange Shirt day represent?

The message that Phyllis Webstad wants to convey and pass along on Orange Shirt Day (and every day) is that every child matters. Orange Shirt Day was started by Phyllis to educate people about residential schools and fight racism as well as bullying.

Quality of Health


Government policies and programs, including the Indian Act and the residential school system, have contributed to the increase of mental illness, inter-generational trauma and suicide attempts.Despite the last residential school having closed in 1996 there is still continued trauma within Indigenous communities. Currently, the efforts of the Canadian healthcare system are inadequate in addressing the short-term increase in suicides in Indigenous communities and the associated long-term issues. As you can see the 45 years and over age group in every single category has the lowest overall mental health.

Indigenous affairs Investments


For the 2015 to 2018 Budgets, the Government began to increase Indigenous investments, from in and around $11 billion to more than $16.8 billion. A bit of context about why Indigenous investments increased in 2015 is because that year Trudeau’s Liberal government came into power and Stephen Harper’s conservative government stepped down. Their efforts are reflected in the graph as they were committed to helping Indigenous people.This increase in Indigenous investments resulted in planned funding for Indigenous people growing from just over $11 billion in 2015 and 2016 to more than $15 billion in 2021 and 2022 (which is an increase of 34 per cent in total funding.) Which is a lot of change considering that there was a greater change in budget and attitude within only 5 to 6 years compared to the last decade where there was little to no change. Building on these previous commitments, The federal government’s budget for 2019 proposes to invest a further $4.5 billion over five years, in order to continue their efforts to close the gap between the inequalities between Indigenous Peoples and the non-Indigenous population and through these significant investments the government has lifted the 2 per cent cap on funding.