Have you ever driven through a neighbourhood park or a wooded area and noticed red dresses mysteriously hanging in the trees? Or perhaps you’ve driven by a local shop or office window, and noticed a red dress hung about in the window and asked yourself, “What is the significance of these? What does it mean?”
In 2010, Metis artist Jaime Black created a public art installation in which she hung empty red dresses in an effort to promote awareness, and commemorate missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals. Appearing in exhibitions such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (2019), and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (2014); Jaime has said that through her art installation she hopes to “draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women.”.
For Black, each dress is meant to symbolize the life of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman or girl, and the stark and stunning visual representation of the empty, red dress is meant to evoke a visceral reaction in its observers and according to the artist, “to evoke a presence through the marking of absence”.
The ongoing support of Jaime’s project prompted the inception of Red Dress Day, which continues annually. On this day, individuals choose to wear red or to display a red dress to commemorate the lives and memory of the missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirited individuals.
#reddressday #mmiwg #nomorestolensisters