PEI

Red dress photography a form of prayer for Indigenous woman

When Mi'kmaw photographer Patricia Bourque goes out for a walk, she takes a red dress with her.

'How lucky am I that I get to come home every day?'

'I see the shadows coming through from the sun beaming through the trees, and you just feel it,' says Patricia Bourque of this photograph. (Patricia Bourque)

When Mi'kmaw photographer Patricia Bourque goes out for a walk, she takes a red dress with her.

Red dresses have become a symbol of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Bourque bought her dress at a thrift store many years ago, but it sat for a long time in the closet.

Bourque is regularly out walking and taking pictures of the P.E.I. landscape. One day, two women asked her if she was frightened to be out alone.

This is my small way to honour them.— Patricia Bourque

"I just thought that was silly. It's the middle of the daytime. I'm not scared of coyotes. That was the first thing that crossed my mind," she said.

But when she got home there was a news story about another Indigenous woman who had been murdered or was missing.

"I realized, 'Oh my God, how blessed am I? How lucky am I that I get to come home every day?' I didn't think anything of it that I put myself at risk and at harm every time I come out here. And how unfair is that? All my male photographer counterparts, do they think like that?"

She realized it was time to take the dress out of the closet.

When she walks now the dress comes with her, and when she sees the right spot, she hangs it up.

"When I take my dress out and I photograph it, I take a moment to remember some of the women, some of the girls, that I'm hearing [about] in the news," Bourque said.

"This is what I think about when I place my dress up and photograph it. I'm also praying. I'm also praying for all the women and girls.

"This is my small way to honour them."

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With files from Isabella Zavarise

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