When Phyllis Webstad (nee Jack) turned six, she went to the residential school for the first time. On her first day at school, she wore a shiny orange shirt that her Granny had bought for her, but when she got to the school, it was taken away from her and never returned. This is the true story of Phyllis and her orange shirt. It is also the story of Orange Shirt Day (an important day of remembrance for First Nations and non First Nations Canadians).
Phyllis Webstad (nee Jack) is Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band). She comes from mixed Secwepemc and Irish/French heritage. She was born in Dog Creek and lives in Williams Lake, BC, Canada. In 2018 Phyllis Webstad launched her children’s book called “The Orange Shirt Story” to share her story in her own words. The Orange shirt story tells the story of young Phyllis having her orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school and never to see it again. A simple orange shirt has become a conversation starter for all aspects of residential school across Canada and beyond. Phyllis has inspired thousands and thousands of people to honour residential school survivors and their families and share the call on September 30th of each year that “EVERY CHILD MATTERS.” Phyllis is well respected for her work, her courage and for striving to heal our communities and Nation through speaking her truth.