Nfld. & Labrador

Red dresses reminder of murdered, missing women

Around 70 red dresses were hung on branches above the high stacks of snow in Happy Valley Goose Bay on Friday.

'We are here today to show that these women will not be forgotten or ignored any more'

Émilie Angers hangs one of the dresses in a tree just off Hamilton River Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Red dresses were hung as high as they could go just off Happy Valley-Goose Bay's main drag Friday afternoon so they could be visible to people driving by.

It really has a haunting effect. It's really very powerful.-  Émilie  Angers

The annual event raises awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

"We're trying to reach the highest branches of the tree because this year the snow banks are so high," said Émilie Angers, program co-ordinator at the Mokami Women's Centre.

"It has a really major impact when you drive around town and you see those red dresses. It really has a haunting effect. It's really very powerful."

An RCMP officer hangs a red dress high in a tree so it can be seen by cars passing on nearby Hamilton River Road. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The dresses hanging in Happy Valley-Goose Bay aim to recreate an art project started by Jamie Black, a Métis artist in Winnipeg, in 2010.

She collected red dresses and hung them in trees and other places around the city in the hopes of "drawing attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence."

Red dresses hang as a reminder of missing and murdered women. 1:15

More than 1,000 indigenous women went missing and murdered across Canada over the past 30 years, though some believe there are many more undocumented cases. 

"We are here today to show that these women will not be forgotten or ignored any more," Angers said.

Joanna Anderson and many others

In all, 70 dresses were collected for the Labrador project.

Evelyn Winters hung one of them for Joanna Anderson, her sister-in-law's mother from Nain who she said was murdered over 30 years ago. It's still not known who killed her.

"It was an honour to hang a dress up for her, in her memory," Winters said.

"It's a remembrance. You remember her and her ways."

Evelyn Winters hung a red dress for her sister-in-law's mother Joanna Anderson, a woman who was well known for traditional healing in Nain. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Winters said Anderson helped form the women's group in Nain in the 1970s, she was well known for being a midwife and traditional healer.

"She helped a lot of people in the community … homeless people or people who needed help," Winters said.

"It was nice to honour her because she was so involved in our community."

About the Author

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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