Indigenous
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘Walking history books’: Founders of Victoria Orange Shirt Day reflect on reconciliation

Sept. 30 marks the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

By Ryan Hook
September 30, 2022
Indigenous
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘Walking history books’: Founders of Victoria Orange Shirt Day reflect on reconciliation

Sept. 30 marks the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

By Ryan Hook
Sep 30, 2022
Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray on Orange Shirt Day in 2021. Photo provided by the City of Victoria
Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray on Orange Shirt Day in 2021. Photo provided by the City of Victoria
Indigenous
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘Walking history books’: Founders of Victoria Orange Shirt Day reflect on reconciliation

Sept. 30 marks the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

By Ryan Hook
September 30, 2022
Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
‘Walking history books’: Founders of Victoria Orange Shirt Day reflect on reconciliation
Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray on Orange Shirt Day in 2021. Photo provided by the City of Victoria

In 2013, Phyllis Webstad shared a story about her shiny orange shirt being taken from her at the age of six when she arrived at St. Joseph Mission residential school. That year, the first official Orange Shirt Day event was born, and since then, conversations around Indigenous reconciliation and the negative impact of residential schools have gone global

Now, Webstad has reclaimed the orange shirt as a symbol of solidarity with residential school survivors, their families, and those who never made it home. 

When Kristin Spray and Eddy Charlie met in an Indigenous studies course at Camosun College in 2015, they were also inspired by Webstad’s story. On Vancouver Island, there were five residential schools that existed up until the 1980s—202 children are known to have died within these schools, though the real number is believed to be higher. Spray and Charlie felt compelled to do something in Victoria and began organizing their own Orange Shirt Day event.

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

At first, Charlie says there was a lot of hesitation from the Indigenous community. 

“The resistance was from Indigenous Elders having conversations about the trauma of residential schools,” he said. “But the work we have done has opened up the conversation with the Elders who refused to talk about their experience in the past, or who were too scared to.” 

Sept. 30 marks the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation—which is also Orange Shirt Day. Charlie says it’s become a significantly poignant day for Indigenous people.

“More and more people have chosen to stand up and say, ‘this is important to me because my parents and my grandparents went to residential schools,’” he said. “There's no better platform than September 30.” 

For those looking to observe the holiday who aren’t directly affected by residential schools and come from settler backgrounds, Charlie says the best thing they can do is keep their mind open and listen.

“Residential school survivors are walking, talking history books, and people need to hear their stories,” he said.  “Allow the words of the residential school survivors to penetrate your heart and your mind.”

Charlie said he and Spray will continue working towards truth and reconciliation as far as they can, “so that the grandchildren that are not here yet don’t have to do what we’re doing,” he said.

“We want to keep on doing it until we are no longer needed—until someone else finds the courage to stand up and speak as well.”

Article Author's Profile Picture
Ryan Hook
Food, Arts & Culture Reporter

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

Related News

‘Walking history books’: Founders of Victoria Orange Shirt Day reflect on reconciliation
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.