Phyllis Webstad, inspiration for Orange Shirt Day, spoke at the Rotary Club of Langley Central celebration of International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 5. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Phyllis Webstad, inspiration for Orange Shirt Day, spoke at the Rotary Club of Langley Central celebration of International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 5. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Founder of Orange Shirt Day tells her story at Langley event

Phyllis Webstad spoke at the International Women’s Day luncheon held by Langley Central Rotary Club

Phyliss Webstad, the Williams Lake woman who inspired Orange Shirt Day, described the impact of residential schools on several generations of her family at the 10th annual International Women’s Day luncheon held by the Langley Central Rotary Club on Saturday, March 5.

“My mother was so traumatized, she could not care for me,” Webstad told the sold-out event at George Preston Recreation Centre.

“She became an alcoholic. I was fortunate to be brought up by my grandmother.”

READ MORE: Webstad visited Langley for reconciliation event in 2018

When Webstad was six, her family managed to scrape together enough money for a store-bought outfit.

In an online account, Webstad described going to “Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school!”

Her new clothes were taken away when she arrived at the residential school.

“The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”

Webstad wrote The Orange Shirt Story in 2018. It inspired Orange Shirt Day, held on Sept. 30 to mark the day when children were taken away from their families. It is now known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, after it became a federally recognized holiday.

Langley artist Tina Taphouse shared her story of learning she was a part of the infamous ‘sixties scoop’ of Indigenous children, (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Langley artist Tina Taphouse shared her story of learning she was a part of the infamous ‘sixties scoop’ of Indigenous children, (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Before Webstad spoke, Langley’s Tina Taphouse told her story.

Taphouse found out in 2019 that she was part of the infamous “Sixties scoop” of Indigenous children in Canada.

Her mother gave her up for adoption so her daughter wouldn’t be sent to the infamous Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“I’m just getting to know my family and culture,” Taphouse said.

Taphouse designed an orange t-shirt, on sale at the luncheon, to raise funds for the society.

READ ALSO: Langley Central Rotary club delivers $20,000 to hospital

Three women were recognized as unsung heroes at the Saturday event:

Carol Metcalfe, a member of the Langley Lodge Auxiliary for 18 years, and president since 2014, has also served as a member of the Langley Care Society and Care Foundation since 2014. Her award biography described her as a “tireless” volunteer who raises funds and coordinates events.

Carol Metcalfe was one of three unsung heroes honoured at the 10th annual International Women’s Day luncheon held by Langley Rotary Central. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Carol Metcalfe was one of three unsung heroes honoured at the 10th annual International Women’s Day luncheon held by Langley Rotary Central. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Faith Bateman volunteers at Wagner Hills Farm, an addictions recovery facility in Langley. Her bio said Bateman has “been a model of love” who is hopeful and supportive of the residents.

Faith Bateman was one of three unsung heroes honoured at the 10th annual International Women’s Day luncheon held by Langley Rotary Central. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Faith Bateman was one of three unsung heroes honoured at the 10th annual International Women’s Day luncheon held by Langley Rotary Central. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Fern Gabriel, from the Kwantlen First Nation, a language teacher and story teller known for her efforts to bring awareness and action to the revitalisation of First Nations culture, was described as a “steadfast and faithful advocate for her community.”

International Women’s Day Committee chair Linda Mross, Unsung Hero award recipient Fern Gabriel and Rotary Club of Langley Central president John Campbell, at the presentation Saturday, March 5 during the 10th annual International Women’s Day luncheon. Mross is also district coordinator of Honouring Indigenous Peoples, (HIP) in the Western Region of Rotary. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

International Women’s Day Committee chair Linda Mross, Unsung Hero award recipient Fern Gabriel and Rotary Club of Langley Central president John Campbell, at the presentation Saturday, March 5 during the 10th annual International Women’s Day luncheon. Mross is also district coordinator of Honouring Indigenous Peoples, (HIP) in the Western Region of Rotary. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

A silent auction at the luncheon raised more than $4,000, all of which will go to the Orange Shirt Society.


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