Residential school survivor and founder of Orange Shirt Day Phyllis Webstad and Cariboo Regional Area F director Joan Sorley in Ottawa witnessed the vote passing in the House Of Commons to make National Truth and Reconciliation Day a statutory holiday. Photo submitted

Orange Shirt Day inspires Sept. 30 Truth and Reconciliation national holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School survivor Phyllis Webstad witnessed history in Ottawa Wednesday.

Bill C-369, to make Sept. 30 a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a statutory holiday, passed through the House of Commons on March 20 and will now move to the Senate before becoming law.

Orange Shirt Day, which is also marked on Sept. 30, was inspired by Webstad’s experience of having her brand new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school near Williams Lake.

“It’s surreal,” she told the Black Press Media from Ottawa after the vote was passed. “We’ve made history and it was an honour to be here to witness the vote. Minister Jolibois hopes it will be passed by June.”

Her role in the bill was establishing Sept. 30th as the day for the statutory holiday, Webstad said.

“That is my connection to the bill. Of course it is not all about me, and thanks to the Orange Shirt Day Society, Joan and I were able to travel to Ottawa.”

Cariboo Regional District Area F director Joan Sorley travelled with Webstad to Ottawa to be present for the vote and said the fact the bill passed was “unbelievable.”

READ MORE: Webstad’s Orange Shirt story helps lead the way for truth and reconciliation

“We came outside saying, ‘Oh my God,’ and were jumping up and down and hugging each other,” Sorley said, adding the NDP and the Liberals voted in favour and the Conservatives, who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, voted against the bill, including Cariboo Prince George MP Todd Doherty and Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod.

Before the vote, Webstad and Sorley met with Federal NDP MP Georgina Jolibois, who authored the bill.

They met her mother, family and staff.

“It was an honour to meet her,” Webstad said.

In a news release issued Wednesday, Jolibois said it was an important day for reconciliation in Canada.

“After 151 years of pain and suffering inflicted on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, there will now be a time to reflect and to build relationships to strengthen the Canadian society,” she noted. “With Justice Murray Sinclair who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the Senate, I would expect this bill to go ahead without much opposition. I’m proud of the work we did to get this done. We heard from many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people across the country who wanted this done. This is a big day for all of us.”

Chiefs of the Northern Secwepemc to Quelmucw were swift to congratulate Webstad.

“We are very proud of Phyllis, for her courage and for the great work she has done,” said Chief Patrick Harry, spokesman for NStQ and Chief of Stswecem’c Xgat’tem. “National Truth and Reconciliation Day will be another important step on the path to healing.”

A national day of recognition was one of the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said Tsq’escen Chief Helen Henderson.

“It is important to keep the conversation about residential schools going and to honour the victims,” Henderson said.

T’exelc Chief Willie Sellars thanked Webstad for her tireless work on behalf of residential school survivors, their families and their communities.

“It is important that we do not forget the legacy of these schools, and that the journey to reconciliation is one we must take together,” Sellars said.

Acting Xat’sull Chief Sheri Sellars said the legacy of residential schools exists.

“Taking one day a year to remember and pay honour to the victims is important, for their healing and for all of ours,” Sellars said.

Webstad also made presentations to two Catholic schools in Ottawa this week and she and Sorley will spend Thursday visiting the Assembly of First Nations before returning home on Friday.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read