Honouring Indigenous Residential School Survivors with Phyllis (Jack) Webstad

Friday, Sep 3, 2021

Phyllis (Jack) Webstad recently shared her heartbreaking experience attending residential school with the Pacific Blue Cross team.

Pacific Blue Cross was recently joined by Phyllis (Jack) Webstad of the Orange Shirt Society who shared her own heartbreaking experience attending residential school.

Phyllis attended St. Joseph Mission residential school in Williams Lake, British Columbia as a child in 1973/1974. Her experience inspired Orange Shirt Day – a movement bringing communities together in a spirit of reconciliation, hope, and remembrance for the victims and survivors of the residential school system. She also established the Orange Shirt Society – a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the lasting impacts of the residential school system.

Today, the orange shirt represents the loss of identity that Indigenous Peoples experienced within the residential school system. The movement was inspired by Phyllis’ experience arriving at residential school in her favourite orange shirt.

“When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt. I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of how my feelings didn’t matter”
-Phyllis (Jack) Webstad

“Phyllis’ experience is a testament to the importance of truth and reconciliation,” says Rob Chiarello, Senior Vice President, People & Culture, Pacific Blue Cross. “Our team was honoured to have her join us as we continue our learning journey at Pacific Blue Cross.”

Honouring Indigenous Peoples on September 30th

Phyllis’ visit was especially meaningful as we lead up to Orange Shirt Day and the newly introduced federal statutory holiday, Truth and Reconciliation Day, both on September 30th.

Truth and Reconciliation Day is an opportunity to recognize, reflect, and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour the survivors, their families, and communities.

If you would like to donate to the Orange Shirt Society, purchase an Orange Shirt, or learn more about Phyllis’ story, visit: www.orangeshirtday.org