A commemorative artwork was unveiled as part of a community gathering and vigil Tuesday evening, an event hosted by Mount Allison University in response to the national inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
Entitled She Lights the Way, the stained-glass red dress artwork by Mi’kmaq artist Pauline Young will be on display in the university’s Wallace McCain Student Centre as a memorial to Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
Patty Musgrave-Quinn, Mount Allison’s Indigenous affairs co-ordinator, was one of the main organizers of the vigil and commissioned art unveiling. She hopes to raise awareness at the university and beyond through the Red Dress Campaign.
“It is my dream that one day, every person will know what the symbol of the red dess means and someday, every person will realize that we are in a crisis with missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across Turtle Island,” says Musgrave-Quinn.
“I hope that one day, people will be sitting at dinner talking about it, joining the Facebook pages on MMIWG and sharing the pictures, and pressuring law enforcement everywhere to take this seriously. It is time to read, learn, and speak up with us so that we can decrease the numbers of missing and murdered and eliminate it all together.”
The artwork and campus event were supported by the federal department for Women and Gender Equality’s Commemoration Fund to honour the lives and legacies of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, including LGBTQ and Two Spirit people. Just over 100 survivor, community, and family-led projects received federal support across Canada as part of the MMIWG National Inquiry.
“The annual campus MMIWG vigil and new art commemoration are important and powerful ways to support healing, create awareness, and advance reconciliation on the Mount Allison University campus and within the community,” said Mount Allison University president Jean-Paul Boudreau. “We are honoured to share Pauline Young’s art on our campus and have it serve as a reminder of these women and girls and their families.”
The evening vigil also included guest speakers from local Indigenous communities sharing their own stories of family members and remembrance of MMIWG. Red dresses were also placed across the campus.
In the near future, the Mount Allison University website will host a learning piece that will include Missing and Murdered Women and Girls: A Traumatic Journey from Mi’kma’ki Ancestral Times to Present, as well as a piece that will assist in understanding the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry on MMIWG. This website addition will provide an educational tool as well as an awareness tool that can be shared worldwide.
In addition to the vigil, Mount Allison will host an Indigenous Day of Learning and Language on Oct. 9 in partnership with l’Université de Moncton and Future Ready New Brunswick and Future Ready Wabanaki. The day-long workshop will feature Cindy Blackstock, activist and executive director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Pre-registration is required by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The third annual Mount Allison University Powwow will also be held that week, Thursday, Oct. 10 beginning with the grand entry at noon in the athletic centre (50 York Street). Dancers, drummers, singers, as well as traditional arts and crafts vendors from across the Maritimes will be in attendance. The event will close at 4 p.m. The Mount Allison University Powwow is a family-friendly event open and free to all.