Vandalism of REDress art project seen as further violation of missing and murdered aboriginal women

HALIFAX – An art exhibition called the REDress project representing missing and murdered aboriginal women at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS has been repeatedly vandalized.

Shortly after going on display in September, 10 red dresses that were hung from trees outside of Acadia University’s Art Gallery were either damaged or stolen, leaving curator Laurie Dalton in shock.

“We didn’t expect it to happen so quickly,” said Dalton.

An anonymous community member donated three new dresses to help replace the vandalized ones, but one of those was stolen the next day.

Now only two remain along with broken tree branches and empty hangers.

Dalton says the dresses were securely attached the trees so they couldn’t easily be taken off. She says the force in which the damage was done is upsetting.

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“This would have been woven onto the hanger with fishing line, so you had to work really hard and be quite committed to get these out.”

Dave Squires/Global News

She calls the crime a serious violation.

“The very removal of those dresses is a further removal of that woman,” said Dalton.

Dalhousie Native studies professor Patricia Doyle-Bedwell, an aboriginal woman herself, says the vandalism cuts deep for her and her community.

“The souls of our women were being vandalized and violated again. To see someone not take this seriously and tear them down, it just hurt me,” she said.

Acadia says it’s unclear what the motivation was behind the vandalism and theft of the dresses.

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“I hope it’s wasn’t someone motivated by what the exhibition represents,” said Dalton.

“Well to be nice maybe they don’t understand what it means. But my initial reaction was they are misogynistic and racist against our women,” said Doyle-Bedwell.

The gallery says it will not replace anymore of the dresses in the outside exhibit. Dalton wants the vandalism to become part of the conversation.

The exhibition runs until November 29th.

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