This article was written by Sarah Rieger and originally published here.
An artist is asking Canadians to take part in a striking one-day display of red dresses to represent the country’s missing and murdered indigenous women.
Jaime Black, a Metis artist from Winnipeg, created The REDress Project five years ago. It collects red dresses from the community and hangs them in public spaces as a visual reminder of the women who are no longer present.
The red garments have been exhibited everywhere from university campuses to Canada’s Museum For Human Rights, where the Globe and Mail called the exhibit “haunting,” as it looked out on the portion of the Red River where 15-year-old Tina Fontaine’s body was found.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal women in Canada have been murdered or gone missing in the last 30 years — 225 in 2014 alone, according to the RCMP.
In Alberta, for example, 206 First Nations women have been killed over three decades — or 30 per cent of all female homicides in the province.
On Oct. 4, Black is asking for women to donate a dress to the project, hang a red dress outside their home, or wear one as they go about their day.
“Through the installation I hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence,” Black states on her website.
Linda Nothing, who is helping to organize the Calgary chapter of the project, told Metro News that many people who see the project are shocked that it is an issue in the city.
“The image itself can speak to a lot of people,” she told the newspaper. “If they aren’t aware of the issue they are often shocked and surprised that it’s happening in Canada because there is a lot of under education and miss-education about indigenous issues here.”