The ‘Orange Shirt Day’ display at the MCC Southern and Dobson library. (Photo courtesy of the Inter-Tribal Student Organization)

“Orange Shirt Day’ honors indigenous boarding school survivors

A two part event on Sept 27 at Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson campus will honor indigenous communities and provide education about the past federal Indian boarding schools, according to a recent announcement.

“Orange shirt day,” part of a “National Day of Remembrance,” is presented with the returning caption that “every child matters,” and is hosted by the American Indian Institute and the Inter-Tribal Student Organization during one event at 12 p.m., and another at  6 p.m., both at the MCC clock tower.

The first event is intended for students, faculty and staff and will start the day with a “solidarity walk” across the campus that will end at the library, revealing the “Orange Shirt Day” display that includes a student made banner that will remain up until the end of the month.

“In the library we have poster boards of information about Boarding Schools, we hung shirts of statistics and the smaller paper shirts are messages people wrote for survivors and victims of Boarding Schools,” said Lehua Dosela, public information officer at ISO in a written statement to the Mesa Legend.

The second event will be a community rally meant to engage the general public alongside MCC, and will feature ingenious speakers, a Native American song and prayer, and a candlelight vigil, according to the announcement.

Those attending the events are encouraged to wear orange shirts on Sept. 27 to promote awareness of boarding school victims, survivors, and their descendants that must deal with an inter-generational impact, read the announcement.

“Orange shirt day” will be held on Sept. 30 in the United States and Canada, but because campus is closed that day, MCC faculty chose to hold the event on Sept. 27.

“This is a day of truth and reconciliation. It is a day of public accountability and (re)commitment to the ongoing process of renewed recognition of Indigenous rights, understanding and relationships,” said Talia White of AII in the announcement.

Over 400 Federal Indian boarding schools operated across the United States from the early 1800’s until the 1970’s, with the goal to erase indigenous identity through cultural assimilation.

During a recent tribal blessing day at MCC, Talia White of AII mindfully reminded all those in attendance that MCC campuses lay on the ancestral territory of native americans, which includes the O’odham, Piipaash, and Yavapai people.


  • Rey Covarrubias Jr.

    Rey Covarrubias Jr. is a freelance reporter for the Mesa Legend. As a lifelong Arizonan, he has found his passion in learning and sharing the diverse cultural and natural wonders of the state.

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