North Island Secondary School students and staff hung red dresses from the trees outside of the building last Friday (Feb. 12).
The Red Dress Project took off in 2010 after Métis artist Jamie Black put up installations of red dresses in Manitoba to represent Indigenous women/girls lost to violent crimes. Over the years, the project evolved into a powerful awareness tool and a conversation starter about missing or murdered Aboriginal women in most communities across the country.
In 2019 the report by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls stated that there was no “reliable estimate of the numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA persons in Canada,” partly because Canada did not maintain a database for missing people until 2010.
The estimates for Vancouver Island may be far more than reported, according to Marcia Turner, an Indigenous relations expert who organized the 2016 provincial gathering for the families of MMIWG on behalf of Indigenous leaders and the BC Government.
Campbell River’s Stephanie Elickus-Rivers is in the process of hanging more than 100 dresses along the highway from Port Hardy to Victoria.
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