Red dresses like this one could be seen on the UBCO’s campus Tuesday, as part of The REDress Project and tea talk held by the Women’s Resource Centre and Indigenous Students Association. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Red dresses a symbol to start a conversation

The REDress Project at UBCO focuses on the conversation about missing and murdered Indigenous women

Red dresses were blowing in the wind as they hung from trees, branches and poles at UBC Okanagan.

Ten dresses could be seen at the university as part of the REDress Project and tea talk, Tuesday Feb. 27.

The REDress Project is a nationwide event, focusing on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“It’s definitely for awareness. Even the people at the event don’t know a lot of information on missing and murdered Indigenous women. It’s generally not talked about on campus, or in everyday life,” said Taya Jardine, volunteer director at UBCO’s Women’s Resource Centre. “A lot of people don’ t know how close and how strongly impacted the local community is.”

Jardine was referring to the five women who went missing in the North Okanagan in less than two years. The body of one, Traci Genereaux, was found on a property in Salmon Arm in October.

The tea talks are held monthly on various topics throughout the year. This one featured missing and murdered Aboriginal women and approximately 20 students shared their voices on the subject.

“The main aim of the tea talks is to really get information out there; to get students involved on campus in a safe space where they can talk about their feelings and opinions on different matters,” said Jardine.

“I feel like bringing the dresses out forces that conversation out of Indigenous communities, into settler communities as well.”

Indigenous women of all ages are being taken and murdered, said Jardine. “Some of the people we were talking about, especially Tina Fontaine, she was 15, just in the child protective system. Other ones are mothers and could be any of us really. That’s why it’s important to talk about.”

Fontaine was found dead in Winnipeg’s Red River in 2014. The man accused of the murder was found not guilty last week.

It’s about getting the information to a generation who can make changes, she said.

“On the university campus people are here to learn and aside from learning terms, it should be an environment of social learning as well.”

The dress project was held by the Women’s Resource Centre in partnership with the Indigenous Students Association.

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