Orange Shirt – Every Child Matters
Orange shirts, with the logo seen here and designed by Ryan Nordmarken, are available.
Measure across the chest of a t-shirt that fits you well, just below where the sleeves join the shirt. These measurements are just for one side of the shirt.
XS – 13.5 in. / 34 cm.
S – 15 in. / 38 cm.
M – 16 in. / 40 cm.
L – 17.5 in. / 44 cm.
XL – 18 in. / 46 cm.
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Background: Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake in the spring of 2013. It grew out of Phyllis’s account of losing her pretty new orange shirt on her first day of school at the Mission and it has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually. The date was chosen because children are back in school and teachers have time to plan, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the year. Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools, and community agencies to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. We will honour the children who survived the Indian Residential Schools and remember those that didn’t. Every Child Matters. We will wear orange shirts in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters.
The story behind Orange Shirt Day:
I went to the Mission for one year. I had just turned 6 years old. We never had very much money, and there was no welfare, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school in. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had eyelets and lace, and I felt so pretty in that shirt and excited to be going to school. Of course, when I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never saw it again, except on other kids. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me. It was mine! Since then the colour 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.
I finally get it, that the 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 from the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter. Even with all the work I’ve done!
I am honoured to be able to tell my story so that others may benefit and understand, and maybe other survivors will feel comfortable enough to share their stories. I want my orange shirt back!
Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, Dog Creek, BC
Phyllis’ orange shirt is a symbol of so many losses experienced by those who were sent to Indian Residential Schools over several generations. Losses of family, culture, language, freedom, parenting, self-esteem and worth were experienced by everyone. Beatings, sexual abuse and neglect plagued many. Let’s not forget the children but honour them on September 30.