The Red Dress Awareness Campaign sought to recognize and inform the public about the increasingly high numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada. File photo

Kumugwe Cultural Society plans legacy project in Comox Valley

The Kumugwe Cultural Society has asked Courtenay council to contribute $5,000 towards a project in memory of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada, particularly on Vancouver Island.

The society is planning to carve a Red Dress Legacy Totem Pole, which will stand about 20 feet. It has yet to be designed.

Several years ago, the society co-hosted the Walking With Our Sisters install with moccasin tops that showed the number of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada.

The society also initiated the Red Dress Campaign that lasted four years. The first year was on the K’òmoks First Nation reserve.

“It’s basically a 150-foot line of red dresses,” society member Rob Everson said in a Feb. 18 presentation to council. “We put it up in the fall to show our support for information being shared within our communities about murdered or missing Indigenous women and girls within our communities.”

Within the newest install, Everson said there will be room for families to commemorate loved ones.

The society, which plans to also appeal to Comox and Cumberland for support, has applied for a $60,000 Canada Council for the Arts grant to cover basic costs.

Once funding is secured, Kumugwe will reconnect with the City and regional district to determine a location to erect the totem pole that will serve as a marker for those missing and murdered, and as an education tool on the history of Indigenous people throughout Canada.

“I feel very strongly that, as a heredity leader, it’s my job to bring information to the public and try to educate people in that struggle that my ancestors had, and that many of our relatives in many communities throughout Canada continue to have,” Everson said.

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