A sea of red marched to the Kelowna Courthouse to the sound of drums for the Sisters in Spirit march for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
With signs raised high with the names and faces of women that have gone missing leaving their friends and family without answers.
“So many people have suffered and so many people are still suffering,” said Karen Vircabs who still has no answers about her niece’s death and disappearance. “My heart goes out to all the families that have suffered and for some of these (lost)women they haven’t even lied yet, some of them have run away to find another place.”
“I am walking to honour all of our sisters,”said Ali Butler. “We have to continually bring awareness to the injustices faced for indigenous women and people and that we have to keep fighting.. for acknowledgement that this is a serious issue in Canada.”
Holding red dresses in the air, Charity Celesta and Raylene Alphonse hope to show people that women are still going missing.
“A lot of times people think that this is a thing of the past and it’s something that is still alive and happening, women are still going missing,” said Celesta. “Our communities are so interconnected it’s always someone that we know or there is a relationship there.”
The use of the red dresses to represent Missing and Turdered Indigenous Women and Girls was started by Métis artist, Jamie Back in 2010.
“She picked red because spirits can see red,” Alphonse said. “I feel like everyone knows someone that is missing.”
“Through the installation I hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence,” reads Black’s artist statement about The REDress Project.
“Today red dresses continue to be used across Canada as a representation of the Indigenous women and girls lost to violent crime and as a call for action to prevent future violence,” reads a statement from the Government of Canada.
Indigenous women are six times higher to die from homicide than that of non-Indigenous women in Canada according to Statistics Canada. Indigenous victims are over-represented in the territories and prairies, with Nunavut having the highest mortality rate.
For more information about The REDress project visit theredressproject.org
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