Red dresses along University Avenue serve as an important reminder of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and duplicitous people

The warm but airy air took on an important role as it caused the red dresses hung along University Avenue in Kingston to playfully dance in the wind, attracting more attention and evoking the spirit of many Indigenous women, children and people with two spirits. he is no longer with us.

Jamie Black’s REDress Red Dress, designed to offer a visual representation of the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and bisexuals (MMIWG2S), captures the warmth of the spring sun as it sways in the wind on National Awareness Day on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. bicentennial people, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Photo by Emily Elliott.

Red dresses were hung on lampposts along University Avenue on Thursday, May 5, 2022, to represent the National Commemoration of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Bisexual (Gender) People (MMIWG2S), also known as Red Dress Day. which is held every May 5th. Queen’s University marked this day with an installation of the REDress project by artist Métis Jaime Black.

The REDress project is a visualization of a staggering number of indigenous women, children, and bicentennial people who have been killed or are yet to be found. Black says that through the installation, which he hopes will “draw attention to the gender and racial nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and provoke presence through the commemoration of absences.”

Kanonhsyonne Janice Hill heads the Office of Indigenous Reconciliation Initiatives and Reconciliation at Queen’s University. She is grateful for the participation of the University in this annual event and believes that people should use this commemoration to educate themselves, she explains.

“It is important to understand that these women were our sisters, our daughters, our mothers. They were someone’s wives, they were aunts, they were cousins, they were friends … I want people to understand that these women are not just statistics, they are important women in our families and in our communities, ”says Hill.

A row of red dresses disappears into the distance next to Nixon Field on the Queen’s University campus as a reminder of the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people of Canada. Photo by Emily Elliott.

From 2005 to 2010, the Indigenous Sisters In Spirit (SIS) Initiative of the Native American Association of Canada (NWAC) 582 items missing and / or killed indigenous women and girls over the age of 20 and worked to raise awareness of this human rights issue. In addition, according to a 2021 RCMP report, 1,017 women and girls identified as indigenous were killed between 1980 and 2012 – a homicide rate approximately 4.5 times higher than all other women in Canada.

As mass graves continue to be found in housing schools across the country, Hill says Indigenous women, girls and people of different sexes have disappeared and been killed “a continuation of these acts of genocide”.

Hill also points to the University’s efforts to make the campus a safer and more inclusive space for Indigenous peoples. As well as special services for teachers, staff and students, such as the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and the Four Direction Indigenous Student Center, last year the school approved an indigenous study program that addresses current issues facing indigenous peoples.

The dresses were removed from University Avenue Thursday night in a proactive effort to protect the project, but will be hung again on May 12, when Moose Hide Campaign Day. This day calls on all Canadians to take a stand against violence against Indigenous women and children. Men and boys, like all Canadians, are encouraged to fast from sunrise to sunset to deepen their experience, as well as to choose to create safe families, communities and a safe country for all women and children.

The red dress is full of streets in front of Grant Hall on National Awareness Day on MMIWG2S. Photo by Emily Elliott.

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