In the woods near the Revelstoke Dam, 21 red dresses flutter and dance in the wind suspended from trees.
The vibrant clothing is part of an exhibit installed in the woods near the forestry museum during the week of June 21 for National Indigenous People’s Day. The project commemorates missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
“It’s a visual stimuli for a horrible event that we can no longer ignore. If you see a whole bunch of dresses in the woods, you don’t just walk past,” said Ella Hardy, one of the students behind the project from Revelstoke Secondary School.
There is thought to be more than 40,000 Indigenous missing or murdered women and girls in the last 30 years. That works out to about 133 a year, or three a week. A national inquiry labelled the crisis as genocide in 2019.
“There’s never going to be enough dresses for the deaths that are happening,” said Sophia Laurence, another student with the project.
“It’s devastating. There shouldn’t be any dresses.”
In Revelstoke, there is little information on local Indigenous history and the impacts of colonization.
“Just because we can’t always see the affects of colonization in Revelstoke, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen here,” said Lisa Moore, an Indigenous education worker with the local school board who helped coordinate the project.
“There’s no excuse not to learn about this.”
The art exhibit also included a traditional Sturgeon-nosed canoe model and audio recordings. There was also a Revelstoke Traditional Knowledge tour, which sold out each day.
The original REDress project was created by Jamie Black, a multidisciplinary artist of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish decent. It was installed in public spaces throughout Canada and the United States as a visual reminder of the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It has been duplicated by several people in various locations around Canada and the original exhibition continues to travel across the country.
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