Many British Columbians wear orange shirts to honour residential school survivors

As Canada marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, many across B.C. are choosing to wear orange shirts to show solidarity with Indigenous communities.

Orange Shirt Day’s origins go back a decade to when Phyllis Webstad spoke about her experiences in front of others who had also survived residential school.

At a talk at Williams Lake First Nation, Webstad had shared how a new orange shirt given to her by her grandmother had been taken away.


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The Nation’s Chief, Willie Sellars, now says he is inspired by how the day has evolved to what we see now.

“We were at the stampede grounds yesterday in Williams Lake, and the school district bussed in over 2,000 students from all over School District 27, and it was a sea of orange,” he told CityNews. “The awareness being raised in our local cities, our Indigenous communities, makes me proud to be a part of it.”

To mark a decade, the Orange Shirt Society has launched a Legacy Fund, which aims to raise $1 million to support the creation of art which will honour residential school survivors and the children who never returned home.

Penticton Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says he’s “absolutely elated” to see so many Canadians participating in the day and wearing their orange shirts.

“I’m happy to witness the growing support from the Canadian public in regard to the reconciliation movement between Indigenous peoples and Canadians in general,” Phillip said. “Now is the time to commit to that path of reconciliation, and I applaud all Canadians that understand.

“It’s about our grandchildren.”

With files from Maria Vinca.

This article contains details that may be distressing to some readers. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society operates a 24-hour crisis line to support survivors and families across the country. The Lamathut Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-721-0066.

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