WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg artist is asking Canadians to help spread a message in a one-day display meant to represent the country’s missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Jaime Black created The REDress Project five years ago.
Black is hoping Canadians across the country will join her Sunday as part of a powerful one-day event to draw attention to the more than 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
“The empty red dress really evokes the absence of these women but it also marks the absence of these women so we can’t forget that they’re gone,” said Black.
Similar displays have been held for the last five years on university and college campuses across Canada including one last year in Thunder Bay, Ontario and one in Winnipeg in 2013.
On Sunday, Black is inviting Canadians to display their own red dresses to signal their support of indigenous women.
“As an artist I feel like it’s my responsibility to do work that benefits the community,” she said. “I have a responsibility, just as a human, to make the world a safer place for indigenous women.”
Black collected hundreds of donated red dresses that have been displayed in public spaces across the country, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Her Facebook page has more than 5,000 likes and Black said she’s met with community groups who are interested in helping organize other displays in public spaces.
On Sunday, six red dresses popped up along the fence around the Alexander Docks, where 15-year-old Tina Fontaine’s body was pulled from the Red River in August of 2014.
The dresses are hung beside a makeshift memorial for the teen, whose killer has never been found.
The one-day display of red dresses coincides with the National Day of Vigils to Remember Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women.
Calls for a national inquiry on murdered and missing aboriginal women have been growing since the RCMP revealed last year that nearly 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada in the last 30 years.