A two part awareness event for Orange Shirt Day was held by the Inter-Tribal Student Organization, American Indian Institute, and the Center for Community and Civic Engagement on the Mesa Community College campus on Sept. 27 to honor Indigenous communities and raise awareness for victims of Indian boarding schools.
The event began with a solidarity walk through the MCC campus, followed by a community rally later in the evening.
The solidarity walk began at noon and started at the clock tower. Students, staff, and faculty all gathered for a brief introduction given by Jaden Bird, the Vice President of ISO.
“What we’re going over today is every child matters. That is just the movement to bring reconciliation and awareness to boarding school and residential school victims,” said Bird.
The group then began their walk headed North toward Southern Avenue. While the group marched, Bird led chants from the front of the crowd.
The group marched through the Enrollment Center and through the Student Life building. To complete the circle around campus, the group walked along Dobson to grab the attention of those driving by the school.
The march finished in the campus library where the organizations had set up a display featuring posters with information about the cause, as well as hung orange shirts with quotes from their members about why this day was meaningful to them.
A few members from the ISO and AII took the time to each speak about their personal connection to the cause, and their purpose for participating.
“In the end, seeing your support, and seeing everyone gathered here today, really gives me the hope that I’ll be able to give back,” said Marti Surveyor, Treasurer for ISO. “For us to go forward as a people, and for us to remember our history, relearn the history that we lost from the boarding schools.”
The community rally was held Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the MCC clock tower. This event included keynote speakers giving talks honoring boarding school victims and survivors, and a candlelight vigil. The rally was open to all students, staff, and faculty, as well as the general public.
“It really touches my heart to see everyone here today, and I really hope that the messages and the speakers that you hear today stay with you,” said Surveyor.