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University honours Indigenous women and girls lost to violence

Queen’s marks MMIWG2S day of awareness with red dress exhibit and invites campus community to join Moose Hide Campaign advocacy walk.

Red dresses adorn the light poles along University Avenue, with Grant Hall in the background.
Red dresses adorn the light poles along University Avenue to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Gender Diverse People. (Queen's University) 

Red dresses line the Queen’s campus’ main thoroughfare today marking the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Gender Diverse People.

Draped from lamp posts running the length of University Avenue between Union and Stuart streets, the well-known art display by Indigenous artist Jaime Black — called the REDress Project — has been installed by the Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives in recognition of countless lives impacted and lost to violence and systemic neglect.

“The red dress is an increasingly well-known and thought-provoking icon that asks us to remember those lost to violence and to act in ways that advance justice,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “I urge all members of the Queen’s community to take a few moments today to pause and think about Indigenous people, particularly women and children, who have been unfairly overlooked, mistreated, and lost to violence in all of its forms.”

Understanding and seeking justice for the disproportionate victimization of Indigenous women and girls were among the calls to action made in the final report by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was chaired by the Honourable Murray Sinclair, who now serves as Queen’s Chancellor. 

The red dresses were first shown in 2011 and went on to appear at numerous universities and museums and garner international media coverage. They will be on display from 6 am to 8 pm on Thursday, May 5 and are set to be reinstalled on Thursday, May 12 to coincide with the university’s participation in the Moose Hide Campaign — a nationwide grassroots movement of Indigenous men and boys seeking to end violence against women and children. 

Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives has organized an advocacy walk in support of the cause. Open to all members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities, the event will see supporters walk from Tindall field, down Union Street and University Avenue to Agnes Benidickson field, where senior university leaders and Queen’s Elders-in-Residence will share remarks on this important cause. The walk is scheduled to begin at 3 pm and run until 3:30 pm. Those interested in attending may register for free online.

“Queen’s has, as one of its fundamental values, a responsibility to build a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist community for our people, including ongoing efforts to Indigenize and decolonize the academy,” says Mark Green, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Events like the Moose Hide Campaign and the REDress installation are impactful ways to start and sustain the important conversations necessary for us to live up to this value.”

The Moose Hide Campaign is best known for its signature pins — wearable pieces of moose hide designed to intrigue and spark conversations about reconciliation and decolonization. A limited number of pins will be made available to participants, and vegan alternatives will be available as well.  

Learn more about both the REDress Project exhibit and the Moose Hide Campaign Event on the Office of Indigenous Initiatives website.