Red dresses bring missing, murdered aboriginal women to forefront
Empty red dresses sway from trees and hang in hallways on the University of Saskatchewan campus. Students say they give the campus a haunting vibe.
“I was walking on campus and noticed all these red dresses. It’s really eerie,” one student commented.
The reaction is what artist Jamie Black was hoping for with her REDress Project. The dresses represent aboriginal women who have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada.
“I want people to be a little but haunted by the violence that Indigenous women are facing every day in our communities, and just the fact that they don’t feel safe,” said Black.
An RCMP report released in May said aboriginal women have been much more prone to violent deaths than non-native women in Canada. The last federal budget earmarked $25 million over five years to address crimes against aboriginal women and girls, and recently, calls for a public inquiry into Canada’s many missing and murdered aboriginal women were renewed.
University staff helped bring the project to campus, noting the message hits home with at least one recent case.
Daleen Bosse, an education student at the university and member of the Onion Lake First Nation, went missing in 2004. Her body was found four years later. The man accused of her murder is currently on trial.
Around 130 dresses are up — all of them donated from people across the country. The project is meant to raise awareness and to motivate young people to discover more about the issue.
“It’s really powerful — especially the ones outside hanging from the trees,” one student noted.
The dresses will be on display until Oct. 5.