Empty, Red Dresses Signify The Loss Of Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls And Two-Spirit People

With pandemic protocols in place, relatively few students saw the touching some might say haunting display at the college campus in Welland where these photos were taken. How sad is that.

Missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people (MMIWG2S+) are being remembered by the Brock University and Niagara College communities during a weeklong display of red dresses and through several virtual events. The initiative started Monday, Feb. 8 and ends today, Sunday, Feb. 14.
The REDress Project, which involves the hanging of red dresses in public spaces, began as an art installation by Métis artist Jamie Black first displayed at the University of Winnipeg in 2011 and has since been replicated in communities across Canada. The empty red dresses are meant to signify the loss of thousands of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit, lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGTBQQIA) people over the past 40 years to colonial violence.
“Being a part of the REDress Project with our partners at Brock University and having the opportunity to display the red dresses on our campuses is very meaningful to the Niagara College community. It will offer a striking visual reminder in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day and Family Day that each and every missing and murdered Indigenous woman and girl was loved,” said Lianne Gagnon, Director, Student Services, Niagara College.
Since 2019, Brock University has hosted an installation of red dresses around campus and a public event raising awareness about MMIWG2S+ organized around Feb. 14 in solidarity with the annual Women’s Memorial March held in Vancouver since 1991. —excerpt of a recent news release.

(Note: The Canadian Federation Of University Women – Welland and District, organized a similar campaign, against gender-based violence, in Welland and Port Colborne late last year.)

Caption: Niagara College staff hung red dresses throughout the entrances of its Welland (shown above) and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses. They were on display as part of the REDress Project, from Feb. 8 to today, Sunday Feb. 14, to signify the loss of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

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