The Orange Shirt Society has issued a statement on the launch of the ground search at the Former St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School near Williams Lake.
Phyllis Webstad, the Ambassador and Founder of the Orange Shirt Society, says ever since the unveiling in Kamloops, investigations of former residential school sites are being conducted across the country to confirm the existence of unmarked graves and the fate of missing children.
“This site is particularly important to me as this is the Mission that I attended in which they took away my orange shirt on my first day. There is no doubt that there are missing children on this site. As survivors, we have always known they were there. Children were taken from their homes and in lots of cases, their families never knew what happened to them.”
Webstad says the search will give families an opportunity to find children and bring them home, and to have a ceremony so they can be properly laid to rest with the respect they deserve.
She says the revelation of the missing children is leading to growing awareness and empathy across Canada.
“This is not only Indigenous history. It is Canadian history, and everyone needs to know about it. My thoughts and prayers are with the families today and in the days ahead as this investigation unfolds.”
The St. Joseph’s Residential School ran from the late 1800’s until it closed in 1981.
Orange Shirt Day has been observed on September 30th since 2013.