Phyllis Webstad, the founder of the Orange Shirt Society, issued this statement following the release of today’s (Wednesday) geophysical results of the investigation at St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School.
“How does one prepare for this news? How do we prepare for the news that confirms what we have known to be true? We, as Survivors, have had to sit with this truth our entire lives and now, finally, the rest of the world is realizing these truths too. Even though we have all come to the same conclusion – that what happened at these schools is abuse and in some cases murder – we still have to sit with the knowledge that our loved ones will never return home. That knowledge has never been, nor will ever be, easy to process.
“Though it is difficult, this news once again validates our truths as Survivors. That’s why the continuation of this work is so important. We cannot have Reconciliation without the Truth, and the confirmation of children’s remains found at The Mission serves as validation of our truths. Now that our truths are being acknowledged, it’s time to take action. To the rest of this nation known as Canada, I ask that you continue to listen and acknowledge the past. Reconciliation requires participation and your role is important. Your allyship and willingness to have conversations is taking us closer to our goal of true Reconciliation.
“I continue to pray and grieve with the Survivors and their families from Nations forced to attend The Mission, including Secwépemc (Shuswap), Tsilhqot’in (Chilcotin), St’at’imc (Lillooet), Dakelh (Southern Carrier), and Nuxalk (Bella Coola). We must take this time to grieve and look after one another. You are not alone. I continue to be grateful to you for telling your stories. Remember that you matter, you are important and you are seen. The world is listening. Continue to tell your truths and remember that Every Child Matters.”
Phyllis Webstad attended this residential school as a child and it is where her orange shirt was taken on her first day of school.