This is a very touching and sad story. It’s a story that will be read and re-read by kids of all ages because of the powerful message contained therein.
The story is about Phyllis. She has to go off to a boarding school far from her grandma and leave her home for eight months. She bought an orange t-shirt just before she started school. She was excited to be starting school. But it wasn’t long she became not only lonely for her home but also frustrated and scared.
When Phyllis arrived at the school, she discovered that she couldn’t wear her new shirt, but a uniform. Nuns with long black habits greeted her. They cut her hair. She had to follow a new routine that was harsh. She did eventually make friends. Time passed. And finally she came back home. However, once she told her grandma all that happened, she never went back to the residential school.
Instead, she stayed with her grandma and enjoyed country life and was educated closer to home.
What makes this story even more poignant is that the author is the same girl who goes off to boarding school in her orange shirt.
I loved this story! I just wish that more kids would read this book and realize how lucky they are.
To commemorate this story, September 30th has become orange shirt day for all Indigenous kids.
The book ends with a glossary, conversation starters, a story about the Shuswap People and their ancestors along the Fraser, Thompson and Columbia Rivers of British Columbia, and some information on the St. Joseph’s Residential School for the readers to know where the author truly came from.