Reconciliation week: Orange Shirt Day arrives early at B.C. Legislature
Horgan and over a dozen MLA's join activist Phyllis Webstad in wearing orange shirts recognizing troubled past
When Phyllis Webstad was six years old, her grandmother bought her a 'shiny' orange shirt to wear to her first day at residential school.
When the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation student arrived at the school near Williams Lake, her clothes were stripped and taken away immediately.
She may have lost that orange shirt forever, but now she wears a new one to raise awareness for all the people impacted by Canada's legacy of residential schools.
"[The orange shirt] to acknowledge survivors of the Indian residential schools and their families, and to open the door to discussion of all aspects of residential schools," she told guest host Michelle Eliot on CBC's BC Almanac.
Webstad began her annual Orange Shirt campaign in 2013 and has since shared her story to thousands of Canadian. On Thursday, she was honored by the B.C. government on the steps of the provincial legislature.
"If we don't remember our past, we may well repeat it. And that's the fundamental importance of having a day like this," said B.C. Premier John Horgan, who was donning an orange shirt of his own.
'Every child matters'
Orange Shirt Day officially takes place on Sept. 30, but arrived early at the legislature as part of B.C.'s annual Reconciliation Week — a week that honours residential school survivors, and addresses the work that must be done in order to meet goals established by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Webstad says it hasn't been easy sharing her story, but seeing children don the orange shirts is a sign of progress.
"One of the big impacts for me is seeing the little ones wearing the shirts and learning the true history of First Nations," she said.
"I have three grand sons but I can't help but think what a different world they're going to grow up in than I did — in a society that knows more about them, and that they know more about themselves too."
Vancouver's Walk for Reconciliation takes place at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
The Walk follows a 2 kilometre route beginning at the intersection of Cambie Street and Georgia Street. to Strathcona Park., where a Reconciliation Expo will be held from 10:30 a.m. PT to 3 p.m. PT.