Students at St. John Paul II Catholic School in Grande Prairie are paying tribute to “all our stolen sisters” with an artwork display outside of the school to bring awareness to the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The REDress Project highlights the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women, with each piece of art symbolizing an Indigenous woman who has been murdered or is missing.
According to the 2016 background to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, between 1980 and 2012, Indigenous women and girls represented 16 percent of all female homicide victims in Canada, while making up just four percent of the female population in Canada.
St. John Paul II Indigenous Liaison Rachelle Bell notes the idea was started by a Métis woman named Jaime Black in Winnipeg. She adds that the red dress is used to provoke presence through absence.
“We as a school took that and created our own art installation. We gave the teachers guidance and they used their expertise in their classes to create something,” she adds.
Bell says that the project features artwork from several students in the school. She also notes that the portrait of the woman is made up of pictures of the Indigenous women who have gone missing in Canada.
Principal Julia Corcoran says the school was honoured to show off the work, and the message created by students.
“The more opportunity we take to make a change in our community and become aware of situations around us, the more educated our youth and our community can be and the more education we have, the more change we can bring into our world,” she adds.
The Red Dress art installation will remain outside the school until the end of the school day on Wednesday.