An exhibit honouring missing and murdered indigenous women opens today at the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre in Yellowknife.
Walking With Our Sisters is a collection of more than 1,800 moccasin tops, deliberately left unfinished to represent the unfinished lives of missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
Sandra Lockhart, a Saskatchewan woman now living in Lutsel’ke, N.W.T., says she was almost one of them.
Lockhart says she was born into racism. It was 1958 on the Mistwasis First Nation in Saskatchewan at a time when there were still Indian agents that enforced the Indian Act on her reserve.
“And you bring a child into that and the child, as I did, I never saw or felt myself as a human being.”
She was placed in foster care a few years later.
“The first home I went into I was violently raped. I spent 11 years in the system and every place I went there was some form of sexual abuse.”
She ended up on the street and a life of drugs and prostitution.
“The horrid part of all of that is if that's all you know that's all you know. And that becomes a very normal way of thinking and seeing the world and moving in it.”
She says she never knew she had a choice, because she had never learned how to live.
“So I went into treatment. It wasn't, ‘Gheez I've had enough, I can't take this anymore.’ I was actually dying.”
Lockhart says her salvation was the services that met her halfway.
They led her to others with whom she could share her experiences and recover alongside.
Jan. 9 to Jan. 24
The Walking With Our Sisters exhibit has been on display in several locations since the fall of 2013.
The opening ceremony in Yellowknife begins today at noon with the Yellowknives Dene Drummers, the feeding of the sacred fire, and the traditional Inuit lighting of the qulliq.
The exhibit will remain on display until Jan. 24.