The Orange Shirt Society celebrated the opening of its new office in downtown Williams Lake with lunch, speeches, and cake Wednesday.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be in this position,” treasurer Joan Sorley told MyCaribooNow.
“We owe huge gratitude to lots of people who supported us and Phyillis, especially. We’re proud to support her work and we’re just really grateful that through grants, individual donations that we’ve been able to open this office and hire Phyllis to be our ambassador/executive director.”
Phyllis Webstad said through a one time grant of $40,000 from Vancity Credit Union and another $43,000 through the sale of shirts and mugs and other donations from across the country, the Society was able to lease the office for three years and secure funding for her to manage the office for one year.
“We just needed somewhere to go where we can go to figure this out because we do not have this figured out,” she said.
“It’s Canada wide, heading to be worldwide and we were still around the kitchen table so to speak, so we needed somewhere to go and now we have this space.”
Through the office, Phyllis added that the Society can now Skype into schools across Canada in a more professional setting.
“I’m really impressed that we were able to get to this point with the Orange Shirt Society. It’s been really quite a journey. If we think of five years ago we just kind of got started with this idea just because of a speech Phyllis gave and here we are five years later with September 30th being considered by the Senate to become a statutory holiday across Canada,” President Jerome Beauchamp said.
“For that to happen in five years is amazing. It really speaks to how important the work is and how important it is to bring to light what happened in residential schools and what we can do to try to achieve reconciliation.”