News / Calgary

REDress project highlights issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women

Artist asks anyone to hang a red dress in a public place, or wear a red dress on Oct. 4

The red dress of Jamie Black's work is meant to symbolize the violence faced by indigenous women but is also a symbol of the power of a community coming together to fight this violence.

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The red dress of Jamie Black's work is meant to symbolize the violence faced by indigenous women but is also a symbol of the power of a community coming together to fight this violence.

In 2014 there were an estimated 225 missing or murdered aboriginal women in Canada, according the RCMP statistics.

Jamie Black, an aboriginal artist from Winnipeg, wanted to showcase the issue in an artistic way, so five years ago she created the REDress project.

Each dress is “symbolic of the violence faced by indigenous women but is also a symbol of the power of a community coming together to fight this violence,” said Black.

Linda Nothing, who is helping to organize the Calgary chapter of the project that will be held Oct. 4 across the country, said they will be accepting red dress donations to create their installment, but are also asking Calgarians to show support on their own.

“We encourage people to hang up a red dress outside their home, business or office, to wear a red dress on that day and also to study what is happening, why is that happening,” she said.

Black said the project is not only art, but an education piece and “hopefully a way to bridge the gap.”

She said many people who see the project are shocked that this is an issue in Canada.

“The image itself can speak to a lot of people,” she said. “If they aren’t aware of the issue they are often shocked and surprised that it’s happening in Canada because there is a lot of under education and miss-education about indigenous issues here.”

Nothing said it’s important for Calgary - Prime Minister Harper's home town - to participate because it could catch his attention.

“It’s very important because there are a high number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Alberta as well,” she said.

Nothing said a location has yet to be determined for people to drop off dresses. But If you’d like more details on how to donate a dress, you can reach her at 587-834-3800.

A ceremony is expected to be held on Oct. 4. Its location has yet to be determined.  

“We’ll have a couple of speakers that have experienced missing or murdered indigenous women from their family who can hopefully help educate about the issue,” she said.

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