Red dresses seek to draw attention to missing, murdered aboriginal women
Fan-Yee Suen, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Saturday, October 3, 2015 5:53PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 3, 2015 7:04PM EDT
A Winnipeg-based Metis artist is asking Canadians to take part in a powerful, one-day display of red dresses to represent the country's missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Jaime Black created The REDress Project five years ago, describing it as an "aesthetic response" to the issue of violence against aboriginal women.
"I began the project because, as an artist, I was looking around and seeing that a lot of families who had lost loved ones don't have much of a platform for having their voices heard," Black told CTV's News Channel on Saturday.
Black collected hundreds of donated red dresses that were later displayed in public spaces across Canada, including the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Black said her project, which has a haunting visual effect, aims to draw greater public attention to the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
"I figured a way to do that was through my art work," Black said.
Calls for a national inquiry on murdered and missing aboriginal women have been growing since the RCMP revealed last year that nearly 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada in the last 30 years.
On Sunday, Black is hoping to draw even more attention to the issue by opening up her project to the public. She is inviting Canadians to display their own red dresses to signal their support of indigenous women.
The striking, one-day display of red dresses will coincide with the National Day of Vigils to Remember Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women.
"I'm hoping that the public can support indigenous women by displaying a red dress in their home or business, or coming together as a community and displaying red dresses in other public places," Black said.
Asked why she chose the colour red, Black said it is a "very important sacred colour" -- not only for her, personally, but for many other indigenous groups across Canada as well.
Black said a friend of hers, who is also an aboriginal, explained that red was the only colour sprits could see.
"So (red) is really a calling back of the spirits of these women and allowing them a chance to be among us and have their voices heard through their family members and community," she said.
Black said she hopes her project will inspire local organizations to launch similar projects in the future.
"I'm hoping that community groups will take on and start doing public installations and using that as a tool to have the public have more of an understanding of missing and murdered women."