REDress a call to action on missing, murdered Indigenous women

News Oct 12, 2017 by Jeff Tribe Norfolk News

The REDress Project’s symbolism is quietly powerful, the harsh reality behind it a brutal indictment of a national crisis.

According to project literature, a 22-page report by the RCMP states that since 1980, there have been over 1,200 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women — a number the Native Women’s Association of Canada equates to 20,000 among non-Indigenous women. The RCMP also estimates Indigenous women make up only about 4.3 per cent of Canada’s female population, but are four times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women. Also, according to Amnesty International, a 2009 government survey of 10 provinces found Aboriginal women were three times more likely than their non-Aboriginal counterparts to report being victim of a violent crime.

REDress, a collaborative project between Fanshawe College’s First Nations Centre (FNC) and Sexual Violence Prevention (SVP) team visited Simcoe’s campus on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Its title plays on the idea of redress, or remedying an unfair situation, combined with red dresses providing a poignant visual backdrop. Its inception in general terms represents the fact college is an environment for learning, said FNC success adviser Chris Hannah, and more specifically, that Fanshawe is an educational home to many Indigenous students.

“It’s important for them to have a voice on what they are going through and dealing with.”

The approach is collaborative, added SVP adviser Leah Marshall, based in part on violence being a product of inequality. It also involves connectivity to a ‘step in and step up’ college program; the potential power for positive change inherent to Fanshawe students, who will be the professionals of the future; as well as the fact that any effective solution must be broadly inclusive.

“The reason we participate is to come together as a community, because it’s not just an Indigenous issue; it’s a Canadian issue.”

The project travels to each Fanshawe campus, typically anchored by 13 hanging red dresses, symbolic of women in Indigenous tradition. The number reflects the 13 lunar cycles during what is now known as a calendar year, along with the belief that women — who experience similar cycles — gained power from the moon. The dresses are empty to honour and represent those missing or murdered.

“The women are not there to fill them,” says Hannah.

The display contains one jingle dress, used in sacred healing ceremonies. The woman who needed healing — or another in her place — would dance, causing the bells to jingle, thereby sending a message to Creator. The REDress jingle dress is missing half its bells, Hannah explains.

“In a symbolic way to show it’s difficult to heal communities when so many people are missing.”

An effective call to action, the REDress initiative is in its second year, continuing to generate questions and conversations. Simcoe’s student body is small compared to that at the main London campus; but, they are also more intimately connected, said Marshall, noting previously almost every student seemed to know about the project, coming out to ask questions and learn.

“That says something about Simcoe that that response was so large,” she credited.

The REDress project is proceeding coincidentally to a Canadian inquiry on missing and murdered women facing its own set of challenges. While expressing reservations about the ultimate success of that effort, Hannah believes public awareness needs to be part of the solution.

“You can’t solve a problem unless you know about it,” she concluded. “The first step is awareness, and as it builds, hopefully it will prevent this continuing.”

REDress a call to action on missing, murdered Indigenous women

Collaborative Fanshawe campus project visits Simcoe

News Oct 12, 2017 by Jeff Tribe Norfolk News

The REDress Project’s symbolism is quietly powerful, the harsh reality behind it a brutal indictment of a national crisis.

According to project literature, a 22-page report by the RCMP states that since 1980, there have been over 1,200 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women — a number the Native Women’s Association of Canada equates to 20,000 among non-Indigenous women. The RCMP also estimates Indigenous women make up only about 4.3 per cent of Canada’s female population, but are four times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women. Also, according to Amnesty International, a 2009 government survey of 10 provinces found Aboriginal women were three times more likely than their non-Aboriginal counterparts to report being victim of a violent crime.

REDress, a collaborative project between Fanshawe College’s First Nations Centre (FNC) and Sexual Violence Prevention (SVP) team visited Simcoe’s campus on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Its title plays on the idea of redress, or remedying an unfair situation, combined with red dresses providing a poignant visual backdrop. Its inception in general terms represents the fact college is an environment for learning, said FNC success adviser Chris Hannah, and more specifically, that Fanshawe is an educational home to many Indigenous students.

“It’s important for them to have a voice on what they are going through and dealing with.”

The approach is collaborative, added SVP adviser Leah Marshall, based in part on violence being a product of inequality. It also involves connectivity to a ‘step in and step up’ college program; the potential power for positive change inherent to Fanshawe students, who will be the professionals of the future; as well as the fact that any effective solution must be broadly inclusive.

“The reason we participate is to come together as a community, because it’s not just an Indigenous issue; it’s a Canadian issue.”

The project travels to each Fanshawe campus, typically anchored by 13 hanging red dresses, symbolic of women in Indigenous tradition. The number reflects the 13 lunar cycles during what is now known as a calendar year, along with the belief that women — who experience similar cycles — gained power from the moon. The dresses are empty to honour and represent those missing or murdered.

“The women are not there to fill them,” says Hannah.

The display contains one jingle dress, used in sacred healing ceremonies. The woman who needed healing — or another in her place — would dance, causing the bells to jingle, thereby sending a message to Creator. The REDress jingle dress is missing half its bells, Hannah explains.

“In a symbolic way to show it’s difficult to heal communities when so many people are missing.”

An effective call to action, the REDress initiative is in its second year, continuing to generate questions and conversations. Simcoe’s student body is small compared to that at the main London campus; but, they are also more intimately connected, said Marshall, noting previously almost every student seemed to know about the project, coming out to ask questions and learn.

“That says something about Simcoe that that response was so large,” she credited.

The REDress project is proceeding coincidentally to a Canadian inquiry on missing and murdered women facing its own set of challenges. While expressing reservations about the ultimate success of that effort, Hannah believes public awareness needs to be part of the solution.

“You can’t solve a problem unless you know about it,” she concluded. “The first step is awareness, and as it builds, hopefully it will prevent this continuing.”

REDress a call to action on missing, murdered Indigenous women

Collaborative Fanshawe campus project visits Simcoe

News Oct 12, 2017 by Jeff Tribe Norfolk News

The REDress Project’s symbolism is quietly powerful, the harsh reality behind it a brutal indictment of a national crisis.

According to project literature, a 22-page report by the RCMP states that since 1980, there have been over 1,200 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women — a number the Native Women’s Association of Canada equates to 20,000 among non-Indigenous women. The RCMP also estimates Indigenous women make up only about 4.3 per cent of Canada’s female population, but are four times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women. Also, according to Amnesty International, a 2009 government survey of 10 provinces found Aboriginal women were three times more likely than their non-Aboriginal counterparts to report being victim of a violent crime.

REDress, a collaborative project between Fanshawe College’s First Nations Centre (FNC) and Sexual Violence Prevention (SVP) team visited Simcoe’s campus on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Its title plays on the idea of redress, or remedying an unfair situation, combined with red dresses providing a poignant visual backdrop. Its inception in general terms represents the fact college is an environment for learning, said FNC success adviser Chris Hannah, and more specifically, that Fanshawe is an educational home to many Indigenous students.

“It’s important for them to have a voice on what they are going through and dealing with.”

The approach is collaborative, added SVP adviser Leah Marshall, based in part on violence being a product of inequality. It also involves connectivity to a ‘step in and step up’ college program; the potential power for positive change inherent to Fanshawe students, who will be the professionals of the future; as well as the fact that any effective solution must be broadly inclusive.

“The reason we participate is to come together as a community, because it’s not just an Indigenous issue; it’s a Canadian issue.”

The project travels to each Fanshawe campus, typically anchored by 13 hanging red dresses, symbolic of women in Indigenous tradition. The number reflects the 13 lunar cycles during what is now known as a calendar year, along with the belief that women — who experience similar cycles — gained power from the moon. The dresses are empty to honour and represent those missing or murdered.

“The women are not there to fill them,” says Hannah.

The display contains one jingle dress, used in sacred healing ceremonies. The woman who needed healing — or another in her place — would dance, causing the bells to jingle, thereby sending a message to Creator. The REDress jingle dress is missing half its bells, Hannah explains.

“In a symbolic way to show it’s difficult to heal communities when so many people are missing.”

An effective call to action, the REDress initiative is in its second year, continuing to generate questions and conversations. Simcoe’s student body is small compared to that at the main London campus; but, they are also more intimately connected, said Marshall, noting previously almost every student seemed to know about the project, coming out to ask questions and learn.

“That says something about Simcoe that that response was so large,” she credited.

The REDress project is proceeding coincidentally to a Canadian inquiry on missing and murdered women facing its own set of challenges. While expressing reservations about the ultimate success of that effort, Hannah believes public awareness needs to be part of the solution.

“You can’t solve a problem unless you know about it,” she concluded. “The first step is awareness, and as it builds, hopefully it will prevent this continuing.”