Stolen Sister Project
Stolen Sister – The Metis
My interest in the Red Dresses came about with the visit of Walking with Our Sisters in our community in 2015.
It was an extremely powerful exhibit featuring 1,810 moccasin vamps made by 1,400 people honoring the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls across Canada. Ramona Johnson and the Everson family were among those who volunteered countless hours to bring this event to the K’omoks First Nation.
A button blanket was created as the Comox Valleys’ contribution to the travelling exhibit and the public was invited to visit the IHOS and sew a button around the perimeter of the blanket. Families of victims were invited to place a button in the interior of the blanket. It was here that I placed my sister’s unfinished beadwork that had sat in her kit for over 30 years; she was killed at the age of 16.
It was very meaningful to me that Karen had found a place among her stolen sisters and was, in a way, part of the world again.
The following year, a call to action was made by the REDress Project and as a response I fabricated nine red dresses for the high schools in our district which were sponsored by the CSF. These dresses were adorned with sashes to represent the Métis, abalone for the First Nations and a seal ‘fur’ belt for the Inuit women and girls.
My wish was to take that idea a step further and create three-dimensional hollow sculptures to illustrate the invisibility of our missing sisters. The dresses are to be of various styles and sizes for impact and personalized to represent different age groups and Indigenous nations. They are to be a part of an ongoing project to create awareness for our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls+.
As I am Metis, the child's dress is adorned with a sash and floral pattern to honour the women and girls of my culture. This mixed-media sculpture was created for Indigenous Education SD71.
My gratitude to the Miki’siw Metis Association for the donation of the child’s sash.
I was very honored when Dr. Evelyn Voyageur agreed to work with me on the woman's dress. Cedar weaving is a long-standing tradition in her family and the healing element of this sacred medicine is a gift for the families of the stolen women of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation.
My intention for this sculpture was to bring more attention to the ongoing issue of our Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. I felt that the public recognized the symbolism of the red dress but perhaps it needed to be more personal. Our missing sisters needed to be called by name.
It should not be so easy to disappear; in a society where these girls were/are made to feel invisible, I wanted them to be seen.
Evelyns’ grand-daughter, Carla Voyageur, is co-founder (with Jeannine Walker) of the Lil’ Red Dress Project. Their important work has enabled the funding for billboards for local missing Indigenous women and girls. It was through them that families of victims were approached, and names were added to the interior of the dress. I hope that it brings comfort to these families to know that their loved ones are not alone.
It is important to note that the individuals pictured in the dress are a small representation of the thousands of Indigenous Women and Girls whose families are still searching, hoping, praying, and grieving.
The name on the outside of the dress, K̓i’stła̱ns t̓ła̱liwe’a̱nu’tł , means we will not forget (them) and was taken with permission from lilreddressproject.ca