Phyllis Webstad is a third generation Indian Residential School survivor. In 1973, at six years old, she chose a bright orange shirt to wear in preparation for her first day at St. Joseph Indian Residential School, also known as the “Mission,” near Williams Lake, B.C. Upon arrival at the Mission, Phyllis’ new shirt was taken away from her, never to be seen again. That introduction, and the subsequent treatment she received while within the Indian Residential School system, traumatised her to the point where she was unwilling (unable) to wear orange of any kind. That tragic beginning evolved into what became known as Orange Shirt Day (traditionally observed on September 30) and the slogan, “Every Child Matters.” Then most recently, in 2021, the Government of Canada officially recognized and declared September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
An Indigenous believer recently remarked, “Healing is a slow process, and adding to the wounds will do nothing but slow it down and harm the Body of Christ. Healing might be a solo and varying endeavour, but reconciliation is a two-way street.”
September 30 is an opportunity for the Christian community to take time to remember and lament the tragic legacy of the residential school system and the children who never returned home. But just as Christ did not simply convey truth, but truth and grace, September 30 provides a solemn occasion to champion not only truth but reconciliation as well. And so, we invite you to not just remember the past and to pray for the Indigenous people of Canada, but that we all would actively seek God concerning the ministry of reconciliation that our Lord has bestowed upon all of us.
A variety of helpful resources (videos, podcasts, articles and interviews) are available to you through the PAOC website’s Ministry Toolbox (https://paoc.org/ministry-toolbox) to assist your efforts. May we as a Fellowship and lovers of Jesus seek the Lord in becoming reconcilers and agents of healing.
General Superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Mission Canada Indigenous Peoples Co-ordinator