REGINA – Judy Anderson never had a chance to meet her grandmother. Jane Mary was murdered when Judy’s mom was just 12-years-old.
“One of the things we can get stuck on is how horrible this incident was,” said Anderson, a fine arts professor at the First Nations University of Canada. “But we forget how incredible these women were.”
The Walking with our Sisters exhibit premiered in Edmonton last month, and the FNUniv in Regina is its second stop on a six-year tour across Canada and the United States. Anderson is just one of the 1,300 people who contributed, so the stories of missing and murdered indigenous women could be told.
“I think about my mother at 12, losing her mother,” said Anderson. “I think that it’s important that we remember these women who have been abused in this life.”
In all, 1,725 life stories from Canada, the U.S. and overseas make up the display. The moccasin tops, also called vamps, are intentionally not sewn into the shoe to represent the unfinished lives of these women.
“I made a point to try to read the back of every single one that I put up,” said Katherine Boyer, the art collection coordinator at FNUniv. “They just told so many unique and lovely stories about the people that they’re honouring.”
With indigenous women making up more than 70 per cent of the students at the FNUniv, the exhibit hits close to home.
“Probably a number of them have submitted if not they have family members that are represented in these moccasin vamps,” said Racelle Kooy, FNUniv director of communications.
The exhibit is in Regina until December 13 before moving to Parry Sound, Ontario.