Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Stz’uminus councillor Shawna Seymour holds a red dress beside Chief Roxanne Harris and Ladysmith councillor Amanda Jacobson. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus councillor Shawna Seymour holds a red dress beside Chief Roxanne Harris and Ladysmith councillor Amanda Jacobson. (Cole Schisler photo)
Stz’uminus councillor Tim Harris and Ladysmith Town councillor Duck Paterson work together to hang new red dresses. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus councillor Tim Harris and Ladysmith Town councillor Duck Paterson work together to hang new red dresses. (Cole Schisler photo)

Representatives of Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith showed solidarity against racism on Saturday (April 17) when the group of leaders met to hang red dresses from trees near Coronation Square Mall in Ladysmith.

Last week, two men were filmed removing dresses from trees in the area with a large branch, then discarding them in the forest.

RELATED: Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Ladysmith

After the video was posted to social media, their actions were quickly condemned by both Stz’uminus and Ladysmith. Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris reached out to Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone and the two made plans for a small ceremony to replace the removed dresses.

Stz’uminus Elder, George Harris opened the ceremony with a song, praying for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls — praying for healing and justice.

Members of the Ladysmith community took it upon themselves to organize their own efforts. Before the ceremony took place, individuals had already hung new dresses in the trees alongside the Island Highway. Some have placed red dresses on their homes and in their yards.

Several community members have also donated dresses to Ladysmith City Hall. Stz’uminus and the Town of Ladysmith plan to hang the dresses from Coronation Square to the northern edge of Oyster Bay, symbolically connecting the two communities together.

“I feel so supported and loved by the community,” Harris said. “We have a ceremony in our community where we blanket and this feels like that — it feels like we’re getting blanketed with love and support from the whole community.”

Dresses will be placed in front of Ladysmith City Hall and at Bob Stewart Park, which is the northern entrance to Ladysmith.

“Throughout the next several days we’ll see it grow and grow,” Stone said. “Today we all send a message together from our collective communities that we are in solidarity together.”

Stz’uminus councillor, Tim Harris said that the ceremony was a ‘teachable moment’.

“We don’t have to be mad. We have to get out there and do our part — do the work that really needs to be done. We need education. The boys that took the dresses down probably had no clue what was going on or what they represented, so it’s a real teachable moment,” he said.

The red dresses are a symbol for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The dresses will remain up until at least a week after May 5.

Just Posted

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

An activist against human trafficking says the global sex trade is growing fast. Photo by Julian Rivera on Unsplash
Anti-human-trafficking educator appeals to Comox Valley Regional District board

Globalization, unregulated internet, limited law enforcement and a lack of prevention education… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 demo team returning to the Comox Valley for spring training

The team will be in the area from May 16 to 24

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read