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Red River snow sculptures honour murdered, missing Indigenous women and girls

If you're out skating the river trail this weekend you may notice snowy figures stretched out across the ice.

Winnipeg Métis artist Jaime Black sculpts snowy figures as reminder of rates of violence against women

Métis artist Jaime Black sculpted these figures on the surface of the Red River Thursday to commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

If you're out skating the river trail in Winnipeg this weekend you may notice snowy figures stretched out across the ice.

Winnipeg Métis artist Jaime Black sculpted the figures as a way to commemorate the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

"It's a comment on the fact that Indigenous women are facing high rates of violence in Winnipeg — often we're finding women in the river," Black told CBC Up to Speed host Ismaila Alfa on Friday.

"It's just a way for us to kind of remember them and to honour them and say, 'I hope we get together as a community and talk about ways that we can create a safer space for indigenous women and girls.'"

The sculptures appear lying down on the ice, not far from where the river skating trail ends near St. Boniface Hospital. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)
Black said she had the idea three years ago and headed out on the ice Thursday, amid warm temperatures, to make her vision come to life. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Black said she has been sitting on the idea for about three years and the warm conditions Thursday were enough to draw her to outside and build.

The six or so live-size figures were sculpted so as to make them appear lying down atop the frozen river surface. They can be found about 100 metres past where the trail ends on the Red River not far from St. Boniface Hospital.

Black hopes to have more people from the community come out to help her build dozens of the figures in the future. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)
The six sculptures were all created in about one hour. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

She drew inspiration from another one of her own outdoor community art displays, the REDress Project, which slung red dresses from trees in cities across Canada in honour of MMIWG.

It was an individual effort this time but Black said she hopes to invite others out to help co-create 40 or more sculptures in the future.

Black says though the sculptures aren't permanent, she hopes they'll start a discussion about what can be done to increase safety for Indigenous women and girls. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)