The story of the orange t-shirt in Canada begins – but does not end – with Phyllis Webstad. 

Phyllis was born on Dog Creek Reserve and is from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. Her family didn’t have much money, but her grandmother managed to buy her new clothing for school. Phyllis carefully chose an orange t-shirt. 

Her orange t-shirt was particularly meaningful because it was gifted from her grandmother – the woman who was raising her. It represented family, home, love, trust, respect, safety, and security… All the things we need and crave as human beings.  

In 1973, Phyllis entered the residential school system at the age of 6 – “a 300 day sleepover” as she describes it but there, on that first day, she was stripped of all her possessions – including her orange t-shirt and with it, her sense of self-worth.  

It was the beginning (and the continuation) of a process that violated children and families, and robbed them of the fundamentals of life.  

Over 130 federally funded and church-run residentials schools across Canada were attended by more than 150,000 Indigenous children who were “scooped” from their homes and families.  

The goal, as expressed by Canada’s then first prime minister was to “take the Indian out of the child”, and thus began the deliberate process of forced assimilation and cultural genocide that created nothing short of intergenerational trauma amongst Indigenous Peoples.

Fast forward, Phyllis – the grown woman – tells us that,

 “…the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my very first day at school affected the way I lived my life for many years… The losses of family, culture, freedom, parenting, self-esteem, and worth were experienced by everyone.”

Many children died of illness, lack of care and worse, negligence and abuse (physical, psychological, emotional and sexual); and we are now uncovering countless unmarked graves. 

Those who did survive, returned to their home communities without the knowledge, tools or skills to cope in either world. The impacts of their institutionalization in residential school continue to be felt by subsequent generations. 

Maggie Hodgson, in Impact of Residential Schools and Other Root Causes of Poor Mental Health, summarizes the cumulative impact of the loss of parenting knowledge and skills across generations like this:

“If you subject one generation to that kind of parenting and they become adults and have children; those children become subjected to that treatment and then you subject a third generation to a residential school system, the same as the first two generations.

You have a whole society affected by isolation, loneliness, sadness, anger, hopelessness, and pain.”

And so, why the orange t-shirt? It is anchored in Phyllis’ story. It is a symbol of the devastation and trauma experienced by Indigenous children, their families and communities. It is also a powerful reminder that every child matters.

I have said it here before. To be whole, our country needs truth and reconciliation – real and meaningful reconciliation. 

RECONCILIATION means recognizing how Indigenous Peoples have been traumatically and systemically harmed and disadvantaged on so many levels through intergenerational cycles – cycles that persist to this day. 

RECONCILIATION is about acknowledging on a grand scale the devastation caused by Canada as a colonizing nation. It is about apologizing and taking the necessary steps to redress past transgressions and establish a respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

RECONCILIATION is a collective endeavour, a collective responsibility. It means recognizing what Indigenous Peoples across the country have had to endure and what they have lost – and what they continue to endure to this day. 

RECONCILIATION is also an individual responsibility. Learn, grow and understand with an open mind and an open heart, compassion and empathy.

What will you do today, on this first annual Truth and Reconciliation Day?

Helping provide more than 10,000 nutritious breakfasts to children

Helping provide more than 10,000 nutritious breakfasts to children

The Camino has become a pretty special place for me and as you know, this recent pilgrimage was dedicated to Breakfast Club of ... READ MORE

Transforming Leaders – Pourquoi Pas Coaching International

Transforming Leaders – Pourquoi Pas Coaching International

Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our ... READ MORE

Strong women get tired: The power of taking a break!

Strong women get tired: The power of taking a break!

By Mimi Moore, Forbes Contributor & Executive Coach Are you tired too? Are you in need of a break? I was tired. I needed to ... READ MORE

The Orange T-shirt… Where does it originate?

The Orange T-shirt… Where does it originate?

The story of the orange t-shirt in Canada begins – but does not end – with Phyllis Webstad.  Phyllis was born on Dog Creek Reserve and ... READ MORE

Return-to-the-office: Is there a perfect storm brewing on the horizon?

Return-to-the-office: Is there a perfect storm brewing on the horizon?

Last month, Bloomsberg’s Mattheu Boyle cautioned that the return-to-the-office deadline after the Labour Day weekend may set off a bit ... READ MORE

The Meaning Behind the Red Dress

The Meaning Behind the Red Dress

The meaning behind the red dress and why it matters. May 5th is Red Dress Day in Canada. It is the National Day of Awareness for ... READ MORE

Podcasts: Conversations with people like you and me!

Podcasts: Conversations with people like you and me!

Podcast #1 – Meet Vidya Shankarnaryan, Assistant Deputy Minister & CIO Agriculture and Agri-food Canada Podcast #2 – Emily ... READ MORE

Scroll
English Français Español

Transforming
leaders

Transformer
les leaders

Transformación
de líderes

Pourquoi Pas Coaching International helps individuals and organisations meet their challenges by discovering, inspiring and liberating human potential through change.Pourquoi Pas Coaching International s’engage à aider les individus et les organisations à relever leurs défis en découvrant, et libérant pleinement leur potentiel humain grâce au changement.Pourquoi Pas compromete a ayudar a personas y organizaciones a superar sus retos descubriendo y liberando todo su potencial humano a través del cambio.

Pourquoi Pas works with you, using our creative discovery process and consulting framework, to help release your full leadership potential.Pourquoi Pas travaille en collaboration avec vous en utilisant une approche de découverte créative et un processus structuré de consultation, afin de vous aider à libérer pleinement votre potentiel de leadership.Pourquoi Pas trabaja en colaboración con el cliente utilizando un enfoque de descubrimiento creativo y un proceso de consulta estructurado, para ayudarle a liberar todo su potencial de liderazgo.

WHAT WE DOCE QUE NOUS FAISONS LO QUE HACEMOS

‘We believe change is worth changing for.’‘Nous croyons que le changement sociétal nécessite le changement tant au niveau organisationnel qu’au niveau individuel.’‘Creemos que merece la pena vivir plenamente el cambio’
– Mimi Moore, Founder and Executive Coach– Mimi Moore, Présidente et coach exécutif – Mimi Moore, Presidenta y Coach Ejecutiva

ABOUT USÀ PROPOS DE NOUSSOBRE NOSOTROS

‘Overcoming a leadership challenge — or any other life hurdle for that matter — in a rapidly changing and fluid environment can be daunting at best. At Pourquoi Pas we accompany clients on their journey.’‘Relever un défi de leadership ou surmonter un obstacle dans la vie – dans un environnement fluide et en évolution rapide peut s’avérer décourageant. Chez Pourquoi Pas, nous accompagnons nos clients tout au long de leur parcours.’‘Asumir un reto de liderazgo o superar un obstáculo en la vida – en un entorno de ritmo trepidante y fluido puede ser desalentador. En Pourquoi Pas, apoyamos a nuestros clientes en cada paso del camino.’

– Mimi Moore, Founder and Executive Coach– Mimi Moore, Présidente et coach exécutif– Mimi Moore, Presidenta y Coach Ejecutiva

MEET THE TEAMRENCONTRER L’ÉQUIPECONOZCA AL EQUIPO

Our programs

Nos programmes

Nuestros programas

Helping individuals and organisations meet their challenges by discovering, inspiring and liberating human potential through change.Nous aidons les individus et les organisations à relever leurs défis par le changement en découvrant, inspirant et libérant le potentiel humain.Ayudamos a personas y organizaciones a superar sus retos a través del cambio, descubriendo, inspirando y liberando el potencial humano.

SEE PROGRAMSVOIR LES PROGRAMMESVER LOS PROGRAMAS

‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.’‘Laissez-vous être silencieusement attiré par la force étrange de ce que vous aimez vraiment. Elle ne vous perdra pas.’‘Déjate atraer silenciosamente por la extraña fuerza de lo que realmente amas. No te perderá.’

– Rumi– Rumi– Rumi

OUR COACHINGNOTRE COACHINGNUESTRO COACHING

If you are interested in joining our team of coaches:Si vous souhaitez rejoindre notre équipe de coachs:Si quieres formar parte de nuestro equipo de coaches:

CONTACT USCONTACTEZ-NOUS CONTACTA CON NOSOTROS

Mimi Moore
To learn more:Pour en savoir plus:Para saber más:

CONTACT USCONTACTEZ-NOUSCONTACTAR

To see our programs click below:Pour voir nos programmes, cliquez ci-dessous:Para ver nuestros programas, haga clic a continuación:

SEE PROGRAMSVOIR LES PROGRAMMESVER LOS PROGRAMAS