British Columbia

'I never, ever want anyone else to go through this': MMIWG remembered with red dresses

'I never, ever want anyone else to go through this,' says woman who says she was attacked on bus

CBC News

October 05, 2017

Red dresses are draped in trees in Vancouver's Seaforth Peace Park as part of the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Wednesday. (CBC)

Christie Charles wants to see an end to violence against Indigenous women.

Charles says she and her friends were subjected to it themselves when they were attacked on a Vancouver bus years ago.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Musqueam woman was injured in that attack, which she says was carried out by non-Indigenous men.

Charles still has a metal plate in her chin. And she says the crime was never taken seriously.

"I was pushed aside. There was never a case. I had to write my own statement and bring it down to the police station rather than them coming to me and asking what happened to me," she said.

"It affected me. I never, ever want anyone else to go through this."

Christie Charles says empowering her daughters is part of why she came out to the Red Dress Project event in Vancouver Wednesday. (CBC)

That's why Charles and several dozen other people came to Seaforth Peace Park in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood as part of the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women on Wednesday.

To mark the day and honour the estimated 1,200 Indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada over the decades — an estimate some say is too low — red dresses were draped on trees in the park.

It's part of what's called the Red Dress Project: started in 2011 by a Winnipeg artist to represent the women who are now lost by raising a red dress for each of them.

Charles brought her two young daughters to Wednesday's event — at a site she says was home to the Musqueam summer village — to help prepare them for when they "come into [their] power."

"It's very important for me to teach her about who she is," Charles said. "It's also just who we are as … women of the land. It's to stand up and protect, and feed, and love, and nurture our people."

Charles says after Wednesday's event, she will be travelling the Highway of Tears, a place where many women have vanished over the years. She says she wants to pay her respects to women of that territory.

At Seaforth Peace Park, passersby paid their respects as well, silently reflecting amongst the swaying dresses.

This man was one of many who came to Seaforth Peace Park Wednesday to see the red dresses to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (CBC)

With files from Brenna Rose

Start the day smarter
Get the CBC News Morning Brief, the essential news you need delivered to your inbox