Four of the 1

Four of the 1

Commen-Terry: Walking With Our Sisters – A moving experience

Commemorative art installation at the K’omoks Band Hall until Aug. 15.

Terry Farrell

Record staff

When I first entered the Walking With Our Sisters exhibit, my thoughts were on the assignment.

I was there as a photojournalist. My job was to get one or two meaningful shots. I had my mind on the lighting, the composition, the shutter speed and the depth of field.

I had walked approximately 12 feet when I saw the first pair of moccasin tops that were dedicated to a specific person.

Then it struck me: reality. This is not a simple art show. This is a commemorative display. This is history.

Two more steps, two more pairs of dedicated moccasin tops. Two more faces: two more North American females whose lives were cut short. In all, 1,800 pairs of moccasin tops, each pair representing a missing or murdered Canadian or American indigenous woman. As a Caucasian male, I entered the exhibit with full belief that my six degrees of separation would keep emotions at bay. I was wrong.

By the time I reached the first paper bag with the words “for tears” written on the outside of it, I understood why there were boxes of tissues at the entrance – and was dismayed for not having taken advantage of the offering.

The tissues deposited into the bags will be collected throughout the exhibit, to be burned in a cultural cleansing ceremony at the Tsow Tun Le Lum healing centre in Nanoose.

A volunteer walks by.

She is beating a drum rhythmically, singing what must be a spiritual song – some sort of prayer – weeping gently as she looks down. She is walking with her sisters.

Upon my completion of the tour, I found myself looking for the guest book I signed on the way in. Like many guest books, there is a comment space after your name and hometown. I could only think of one thing to say.

When I approached one of the organizers to discuss protocol surrounding the photos I had taken, she asked if I wanted to be “brushed down.”

Another volunteer standing there said “you don’t know what to say do you?”

I didn’t understand the meaning of the brushing down. But I did know what I wanted to say. I wanted to say “I’m sorry.”

Walking With Our Sisters is much more than an art installation. For some it is closure. For some it is recognition. For most, it is about honouring women, girls, even babies, who have been taken from their families far too soon.

Not everyone will get the same sensations I experienced. But it is an exhibit that must be seen; must be experienced. It is part of our history – a shameful part of our history. And when we talk about reconciliation, opening the books on the murdered and missing First Nations women in Canada must be a part of that reconciliation.

The Walking With Our Sisters commemorative art installation for the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada and the USA will be at the K’omoks Band Hall until Aug. 15. It has been touring Canada and the United States for more than two years already and is booked until 2018. The local stop is the only B.C. stop to date, and the only one scheduled for our province.

Admission is by donation.

Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Comox Valley RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

A Coast Range Cannabis store has been approved for the Crown Isle Shopping Centre in Courtenay. Photo submitted
Courtenay council approves seventh cannabis retailer

Coast Range Cannabis to open second store in the Comox Valley

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

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

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Construction takes place on Bamfield Main in early February 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY CTV NEWS)
Ongoing Bamfield roadwork unrelated to planned $30M fix

Construction by Mosaic unrelated to $30M upgrade ordered in wake of fatal bus crash

Preliminary design for a new composting facility at the Campbell River Waste Management Centre is ready to share with the public. Photo supplied
Facility to enable curbside organics collection in Comox Valley, Campbell River

The preliminary design for a new composting facility being built at the… Continue reading

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Island communities asked to join forces in seeking help fighting illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Protesters gather at Victoria courthouse to oppose Port Renfrew logging

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

Most Read