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Hay River woman honours MMIWG movement through photographs

Michelle Buckley has a very personal connection to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement.

Michelle Buckley says project is to honour her sister, raise awareness

Michelle Buckley contacted Hay River photographer Aaron Tambour to help her with a photo project to honour her sister Rea, who went missing when she was 14, as well as other Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Aaron Tambour photo)

Michelle Buckley has a very personal connection to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement.

When she was just six years old, her sister Rea went missing. Rea was 14 at the time.

This is why Buckley contacted Hay River photographer Aaron Tambour. She wanted to honour the life of her sister and other missing and murdered women and girls through photographs. 

"I just really want and hope that people can do a better job at keeping each other safe and looking out for one another," says Buckley.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report, which includes 231 calls to justice, in June.

The photos were taken in a variety of locations, such as Alexandra Falls and the highway outside Hay River. (Aaron Tambour photo)

It states Indigenous women and girls in Canada are 12 times more likely to go missing or be murdered than their non-Indigenous counterparts. 

The photos use the red dress — a symbol of the MMIWG movement — and red handprints across Buckley's mouth. 

"I think it symbolizes domestic abuse and silence," she said.

Buckley said she found the courage to do the shoot as a way of growing with her sister's story.

Tambour got involved because he also wanted to raise awareness on the issue.

Michelle Buckley says she found the courage to do the series as a way of growing with her sister's story. (Aaron Tambour photo)

"We'd really like to get the information out there for everyone," he said.

The pair believe the project has been successful so far. Tambour says many people have already asked him for permission to use his photos for MMIWG posters, meetings, and exhibits. 

He's posted them on his Facebook page.

Despite not having plans of his own for the project, Tambour says as ideas come he's likely going to just "roll with [them]."

When asked if they would consider doing more work for the MMIWG movement in the future, both Buckley and Tambour said they are open to it.

Michelle Buckley used the symbol of a red dress, which is popularly used to portray missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. (Aaron Tambour photo)

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