Empty red dresses hanging throughout Brock’s campuses and a day of learning will honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people next week.
The display and event are part of The REDress Project, an initiative that began as an art installation by Métis artist Jaime Black at the University of Winnipeg in 2011 to signify the loss of thousands of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit, lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGTBQQIA) people to colonial violence.
Organized by Brock’s Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement, the Hadiya’dagénhahs First Nations, Métis and Inuit Student Centre and Niagara College, the project will see dresses hung at the University’s main campus and its Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts as well as at Niagara College from Monday, Feb. 12 to Friday, Feb. 16.
Hadiyaˀdagénhahs Director Cindy Biancaniello said seeing the display each year is a powerful experience.
“We know that the spirits of these people fill the dresses, and our hearts go out to the families who have never found their relatives,” she said.
There will also be an in-person event in Pond Inlet on Wednesday, Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that will include songs, a panel discussion, a catered lunch, a jingle dress dance, participatory workshops and a further exploration of the day’s significance throughout the afternoon.
Robyn Bourgeois, Brock’s Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement, will lead a workshop intended to raise further awareness about those who are missing and murdered through the use of faceless dolls.
Bourgeois said the violence is not confined to the past.
“It continues to be important to do this work because Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people continue to be murdered or disappear,” she said.
Bourgeois said she hopes the proceedings will inspire people to take further action.
“While awareness is an essential starting point, action is necessary to create change,” she said. “Coming out to REDress is a great way for folx to learn about what they can do to support this movement.”
Additional information and registration details for the Wednesday, Feb. 14 event can be found on the REDress Day 2024 ExperienceBU page, while those looking to help hang dresses on Monday, Feb. 12 are asked to visit the REDress volunteers ExperienceBU page.