THUNDER BAY, ON ----- June 25, 2014 ---- The Walking With Our Sisters - Thunder Bay planning committee is inviting the Thunder Bay community to join us for our 2nd Community Conversation. In preparation for Walking With Our Sisters, this is an opportunity for our community to hear about what Walking With Our Sisters is and how to get involved. Because WWOS is all volunteer-run and community-based we need the help from our community in varying capacities such as: volunteers for installation, greeters, bead team, community outreach coordinator, expanded programming coordinator, tea sale coordinator, youth coordinator, coffeehouse/art auction coordinator, and more people to join the volunteer coordinator position.
Most importantly, Walking With Our Sisters is a journeying bundle that is considered sacred. We need our Elders, traditional people, and knowledge keepers to help guide us in how to honour this sacred bundle with ceremonies and practices of this area. We have a lead Elder, Wanda Baxter who has been on the committee gently guiding us over the last 7 months. She now needs help and support from other Elders to make decisions regarding this sacred bundle.
Another aspect that we would like to ensure that the community is aware of is what we are calling the "Journey Month.". We are inviting individuals, groups, and/or organizations to host events in relation and conjunction with Walking With Our Sisters. For example: the Children's Centre Thunder Bay will be hosting a 9-hour self-defence course which will be open to the community. Events can be simple such as a candlelight vigil or a panel discussion around Violence Against Indigenous Women, etc. We believe that having Walking With Our Sisters in our community is going to help start conversations, instigate healing, and allow us, as a community build stronger and genuine partnerships with one another.
What is Walking with our Sisters? (this was taken from the website: http://walkingwithoursisters.ca/about)
Over 1,181+ native women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or have been murdered in the last 30 years. Many vanished without a trace with inadequate inquiry into their disappearance or murders paid by the media, the general public, politicians and even law enforcement. This is a travesty of justice.
Walking With Our Sisters is by all accounts a massive commemorative art installation comprised of 1,763+ pairs of moccasin vamps (tops) plus 108 pairs of children’s vamps created and donated by hundreds of caring and concerned individuals to draw attention to this injustice. The large collaborative art piece will be made available to the public through selected galleries and locations. The work exists as a floor installation made up of beaded vamps arranged in a winding path formation on fabric and includes cedar boughs. Viewers remove their shoes to walk on a path of cloth alongside the vamps.
Each pair of vamps (or “uppers” as they are also called) represents one missing or murdered Indigenous woman. The unfinished moccasins represent the unfinished lives of the women whose lives were cut short. The children’s vamps are dedicated to children who never returned home from residential schools. Together the installation represents all these women; paying respect to their lives and existence on this earth. They are not forgotten. They are sisters, mothers, aunties, daughters, cousins, grandmothers, wives and partners. They have been cared for, they have been loved, they are missing and they are not forgotten.
Photos by Jamie Bananish for LSN