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.

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