Red dresses symbolize those who have been lost to violence in this now annual installation in Duncan. (Citizen file)

Red dresses go up in Duncan as ‘art turned protest’

Cowichan Tribes is hosting their 1st Annual Walk for Missing and Murdered Men, Women and Children.

By Kendra Thomas

The REDress Project, which will be having an installation in Duncan Saturday, is an “art-turned-protest” display created in 2010 by Métis artist Jaime Black as a representation of the Indigenous women and girls lost to violent crime and as a call for action to prevent future violence.

“An empty garment of clothing operates as a marker for those who are no longer with us,” explains Black.

Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. Although Indigenous women make up four per cent of Canada’s female population, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous — an alarming overrepresentation. In 2014 RCMP identified a total of 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Numerous other reports and studies on violence towards Indigenous women in Canada have identified underlying causes like poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, the legacy of colonization and the devastation caused by the residential school system.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has been determining a strategy for how best to move forward. The mission is to learn the truth by honouring the lives and legacies of Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community and encompasses three goals: finding the truth, honouring the truth, and giving life to the truth as a path to healing.

“Publicly displaying a symbolic red dress invites local conversation about this issue,” said Kendra Thomas, program coordinator for Warmland Women’s Support Services Society. “Fluttering red dresses cause us to reflect deeply upon the levels of violence and marginalization of Indigenous women in a country wealthy in civil rights. Perhaps it’s the fluttering spirits of the women who call us to action to seek peace and resolution.”

Timed to be in support of the annual Stolen Sisters marches across the country, the Cowichan Valley REDress Project is an action of Returning Stolen Dignity. Also, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Cowichan Tribes is hosting their 1st Annual Walk for Missing and Murdered Men, Women and Children. The march will proceed directly past the REDress Project on its way to Siem Lelum gym for speakers, including three chiefs, discussion on the issues facing Aboriginal people in B.C. and a luncheon. There will be performances by the Tzinquaw Dancers and pow wow dancing by Joe Thorne. People are encouraged to wear Cowichan sweaters, shawls and bring drums.

“The power is in our community to be gracious, to be kind, to be generous of heart and spirit… we have the capacity to make change in the Cowichan Valley,” said Thomas.

The 3rd annual REDress Project will be on display in Charles Hoey Park, Saturday, Feb. 10 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with a community prayer circle at 9:30. Info 250-710-8177 or

Just Posted

After round-robin success, Mustangs silenced in semis

Cowichan’s success includes win over previously unbeaten Kelowna

LEXI BAINAS COLUMN: Who’d turn down a chance to perform in Duncan? It was a mystery

Cowichan Symphony Society’s Ted Rhodes shares a fun story about the Royal Wedding

Cowichan Tribes, Lila Community Choir join hands for fundraising concert

With guests including the Blue Eagle Drum Group, this concert looks like a special day indeed

Siebring jumps off the fence to ‘yes’ side of amalgamation

“Common sense tells me that it’s time to undo a mistake that was made in 1912”

CVAC Jaguars beat the heat at Victoria’s Dogwood meet

Jaguars combine for 80 podium finishes

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Catalyst Paper to sell U.S. mills to Chinese company

Sale will allow company to focus on B.C. interests, says president Ned Dwyer

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

Most Read