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Over 40 red dresses hang from trees across Western’s campus: a powerful reminder of the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls that scatter our nation’s soil.
The REDress project was created by Métis artist Jaime Black in 2011 as a response to the critical national issue of gendered violence toward Indigenous women. Since then, installations of empty crimson dresses have been recreated at universities and high schools throughout Canada.
Mary Capton, the Indigenous student representative at King’s University College and the president and co-founder of King’s Indigenous Student Association, says that the issue is not one of the past. For Capton, bringing the instalment to Western University was about more than raising awareness. It was about leaving a lasting impact on each person whom acknowledged the dresses’ symbolism. It was about encouraging Indigenous students and their allies to honour the women whose cases remain unsolved due to lacklustre law enforcement efforts.