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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

December 22, 2023

“Every child that went to residential school, well, they all matter. Even the ones that didn’t come home, they matter. And it wasn’t until after we were using that slogan that I realized that it fits the past, the present and the future. It fits reconciliation — it’s one of those divine things that fits in this day of reconciliation.” -Phyllis Webstad, Survivor and Founder of the Orange Shirt Society 

September 30th marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, to remember and honour Indigenous children, survivors, and families who were made to experience the horrific residential school system. 

WHAI recognizes the disproportionate impact of HIV and sexual health risks on Indigenous women and is committed to centering the stories and voices of Indigenous women in our collaborative work. 

Today we remember Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band), whose story propelled the beginning of ‘Orange Shirt Day.’ The orange shirt is a symbol of her story of survival, and recalls how her orange shirt, gifted by her grandmother, was taken away as part of systematic abuse and erasure propagated by residential schools. This day recognizes the painful intergenerational impacts of residential schools, and promotes the crucial message that “Every Child Matters.” 

The photo of Phyllis Webstad is sourced from the Calgary Herald and the quote above is from an interview she did with the Canadian Geographic.

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