Phyllis's Orange Shirt

Phyllis's Orange Shirt is a children's book by Phyllis Webstad and illustrated by Brock Nicol.

Phyllis Webstad, illustrated by Brock Nicol

Phyllis's Orange Shirt is an adaptaion of The Orange Shirt Story. This true story also inspired the movement of Orange Shirt Day which could become a federal statuatory holiday. When Phyllis was a little girl she was excited to go to residential school for the first time. Her Granny bought her a bright orange shirt that she loved and she wore it to school for her first day. When she arrived at school her bright orange shirt was taken away.

This is both Phyllis Webstad's true story and the story behind Orange Shirt Day, which is a day for all Canadians to reflect upon the treatment of First Nations people and the message that 'Every Child Matters'. (From Medicine Wheel Education)

Why Phyllis Webstad wrote Phyllis's Orange Shirt

"In July of 1973, my grandmother brought me to town to buy something to wear. I chose a shiny orange shirt. Just like any other six-year-old, I was happy to be going to school — I didn't know exactly what was to come.

"When I got to the residential school, it was pee-your-pants terror to be there, to realize that I wasn't going home. My shirt was taken away. No matter what I did, they wouldn't give it back. I never got to wear my shirt again. 

Just like any other six-year-old, I was happy to be going to school — I didn't know exactly what was to come.

"It was a full school year that I was there. We could cry and cry — and no one would tend to us. There was no one hugging us.

"There was no one telling us that it would be OK. We were just there and fed. No one to tend to our emotions or to our fears or to anything." 

Read more in her interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Phyllis Webstad

Featured VideoPhyllis Webstad is the founder of Orange Shirt Day, a day that honours Indigenous children who endured the horrors of residential schools. Her picture book, Phyllis's Orange Shirt, tells the story of her first day at residential school.

More about Orange Shirt Day

Orange shirt day remembers impact of residential schools

7 years ago
Duration 1:28
Featured VideoA ceremony was held at Edmonton's city hall on Friday to raise awareness of residential schools and to continue the reconciliation process.
Featured VideoMembers of First Nations and their allies took part in Orange Shirt Day in Thunder Bay.

Other books by Phyllis Webstad 


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