The Orange Shirt Story
This post is sponsored by Medicine Wheel Education
Medicine Wheel Education creates, distributes, and offers high quality First Nations children’s books designed to teach cultural and moral messages. The newest book is The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad, the founder of Orange Shirt Story. This book is an opportunity to learn about our history, reconciliation and to offer hope for the purpose of bettering our Canadian education system.
Phyllis first started sharing her story in May of 2013, when the TRC came to Williams Lake. As a survivor of Indian Residential Schools, she didn’t know what to talk about, but after a conversation over coffee at a close friend’s house, it suddenly came to her that she would share the story about her orange shirt. It was the same friend who had the idea for Orange Shirt Day. Justice Murray Sinclair had challenged Canadians to keep the conversation happening and they thought that this was a way to do that in the Cariboo/Chilcotin region. It wasn’t until Phyllis was at the last gathering for the TRC in Vancouver that she was approached by a Presbyterian Minister who said she wanted to help make Orange Shirt Day a national movement. Orange Shirt Day happens once a year on September 30 to keep the conversation alive on all aspects of Indian residential school. We wear orange to honour residential school survivors and their families and remember those who didn’t.
For teachers, Phyllis’s message is don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Start with what you know and go from there. If you can, bring in a First Nations elder, who has gone through some healing to speak with students. It is important for Phyllis to have children learning about residential schools so that all students will have a better understanding of where First Nations people are coming from. Last year Phyllis walked through the hallway of a school and witness students in every classroom wearing an orange shirt and it brought her to tears. For her grandchildren, they will have the opportunity to be whatever they want to be and live harmoniously in a society that knows and understands their history.
“This book gives a genuine, serious reflection of a real event, without being angry or sentimental or biased. It flows easily, logically and it’s interesting and very relatable, no matter what your childhood experience might be.” – Jane Hancock, Principal, Dog Creek Elementary/Rural School
Click here for more information on how to order The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad.