The Red Dress Campaign is returning to the Comox Valley, with red dresses to be strung throughout the area to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Organizer Lee Everson of the Kumugwe Cultural Society noted the event this year takes place Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, and encourages everyone to hang a red dress in a yard, place of business or storefront.
“The campaign evolved after we hosted Walking With Our Sisters – K’omoks into a four years plan to provide the Red Dress Awareness installation that was erected within our municipalities (a 150-foot clothesline with hanging red dresses),” explained Everson. “Today we continue to remind our community members that the message remains the same, to inform our community members that our Indigenous women and girls are being murdered and are missing, and we do make a difference when we stand together in remembrance of them and their families.”
In 2016, the same organizers created The Red Dress Awareness Campaign & Installation, in an effort to recognize and inform the public about the increasingly high numbers of MMIWG throughout Canada and the United States.
This project was inspired by The REDress Project, which was started in 2010 by Metis artist Jamie Black; the REDress Project currently resides in the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg.
Despite the pandemic, Everson said it is important to continue with the project.
“Continuing the awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in B.C. and Canada is important because June 2020 marked the one-year anniversary of the 1,200-page final report and the 231 calls for justice in the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The federal government committed to deliver a national action plan to address the calls to justice but failed to deliver in their time frame.”
Both the Comox Valley and Campbell River school districts have created teaching around the campaign which provides dialogue not only in the classroom but in homes as well, noted Everson.
“We raise our hands to our Comox Valley residents who have taken time to educate themselves on the many inequitable situations Indigenous people face today. We are grateful for their support as they join us in our efforts to raise awareness, and help support those families with lost loved ones.”
Additionally, community members have started the Lil’ Red Dress Project, a group of volunteer beaders who have created beaded red dress pins, which are available for purchase.
For more information, visit kumugwe.ca/red-dress-awareness-campaign/