The red dress hanging from a tree serves a visual reminder to Canadian society of the crime perpetrated against Indigenous women in impunity.
A bold red dress hangs from the branches of a metal tree in an artistic tribute to Canada’s “REDress” campaign against gender violence.
First initiated by a Metis artist named Jaime Black in 2011, the red dress hanging from a tree serves as a visual reminder to Canadian society of the high level of crime perpetrated against Indigenous women in impunity.
A pair of Indigenous students attending Ontario’s R.B. Russell Vocational High School, brought awareness to the MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) campaign after spending 300 hours welding the impressive sculpture.
Trinity Harry, 17, told CBC that she and her partner, Joseph Ginter, 17, were inspired by the movement and wanted to contribute in solidarity with the families victimized by violence.
"I do it because people don't really know what some girls have to worry about every single day. People missing their relatives, their moms, their sisters, their kids. It's sad and something that shouldn't even be going on," Harry said.
"We made seven branches, they go together, the seven pieces represent the seven teachings. On the branches we have leaves with the provinces where girls have gone missing," she said.
This is the pair’s second MMIWG piece. The first was large rose welded in memory of Tina Fontaine, a 15 year-old Indigenous girl who was murdered in 2014 and whose tragic story has backed the calls for justice and state action.
I take my red dress with me on my walks, where I often go alone with my camera, I have no time limit on this series, I will continue to photograph across Epekwitk.I will continue to remember my lost Sisters, Mothers, Aunties, Friends, Grandmothers, Daughter's, Nieces #PEI #MMIWG pic.twitter.com/X73HGUMc9p— Patricia Bourque Photography (@TrishaBourque) November 17, 2018
Recently, the REDress campaign made an appearance at King’s University College in London, Ontario as over 40 red dresses decorated the campus.
Mary Capton, an Indigenous student at the university, said, “The most important message to take from this project is that, even though we take these dresses down, as Indigenous peoples, we don’t get to forget about this issue and the emotional burden it carries on us and on our communities like the rest of society does.”
National statistics show that Indigenous woman represent 16 percent of all female homicide cases. Other reports say that between 1980 and 2012, 1,181 native women were killed, however activists following the issue say the actually figure is closer to 4,000.