Silent Display Of Dresses Speaks To Violence Against Women

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND  – A display of red dresses by the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Welland and District, leaves a powerful message for people who stop to view it.

My first encounter was through images provided by the local group to help promote the event, held at Chippawa Park, Welland and at venues in Port Colborne. They were accompanied by a background story about it. I posted the photos and story here on my site last week.

It is part of the 16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and it was done to acknowledge and bring tribute to the many Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). 

“The red dresses represent the hundreds – perhaps thousands –  of North American Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or disappeared during the past four decades,” according to the background story.

It is based on a movement started by a Metis woman from Winnipeg “who wanted the empty dresses floating from hangers in tree branches, to remind us all of the women who should have been wearing them.” 

I couldn’t shake that from my craw and so on Sunday afternoon, a few days after receiving the information, I had to go and see it for myself. 

There were no protestors on site as you would expect to find at a public demonstration. It was quiet, almost eerily quiet. But the red dresses on clothes hangers had much to say even in their silence. They said: violence against women has to stop.

Congratulations to CFUW Welland and District for their work in bringing these displays to Welland and Port Colborne and getting this message out. Red Dresses on hangers amidst tree branches tell it like it is.

(Note: The dresses were still on view today in the park.)

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