Red dress campaign honouring MMIWG in Sudbury for 4th year
The Red Dress project was created by artist Jaime Black
Laurentian University held it's 4th annual Red Dress Campaign on Thursday.
The red dresses hanging around the Indigenous Sharing And Learning Centre and the entire university help honour, remember and bring awareness to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
"It's about bringing awareness to those women who have gone missing, who have been murdered, who we're still searching for, to bring awareness to our communities, to bring awareness also to our families and the continued struggle and grief that they are experiencing and wanting to give acknowledgement in a respectful way and tell our stories," said Geesohns Manitowabi, an organizer of the event.
The Red Dress project was created by artist Jaime Black as a way to bring more awareness to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and it continues to do so.
"We've put red dresses up at all our fashion shows to represent missing and murdered Indigenous women," said Tala Tootoosis, the special speaker for the event.
Tootoosis shared with the crowd her own life story of dealing with her own addictions, living on the street and even how she dealt with her sexual assault,.
She said sharing her story helps others to know that she truly cares.
"I think that being honest about yourself and what you've gone through makes you less of a person who's a know-it-all, it makes you more of a person who genuinely cares about you and wants the good for you because they've been through it too," she said.
After deciding to get sober, she went to school to become a social worker and now she shares her story as a way to inspire other young, Indigenous women.
"All the things I talk about, we've all been affected by, and it opens up doorways for other girls. It creates a safer space for them to talk," she said.
Tootoosis says she feels honoured to be invited to speak at the Red Dress Campaign.
"Just seeing the red dresses was like a dream to me, it was like 'oh man this is how far I've come in my life' and it felt really honouring."
She does a lot of advocacy work, teaching women how to feel empowered by making their own ribbon skirts.
She's an advocate for sexual assault survivors, she teaches people about rape culture, and she's the creator of the Kokum Scarf Campaign to empower women.
"All the work that I've been doing is really around the missing and murdered Indigenous movement, like changing the narratives and trying to help to understand that they're not going to take us, we're not going to let them and while we're here we're going to let people know who we are," she said.
Students from Marymount Academy were also at the Red Dress Campaign to help others make Faceless Dolls. Those are felt dolls without faces.
"They represent women and girls in our communities who have gone missing or have been murdered," said Julia Chalut, a teacher at Marymount Academy.
The students at the school wanted to create a unique way to honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, so they created the Faceless Dolls, she said.