‘Haunting’ red dresses return to campus for second year

The red dresses have returned to SAIT.

For the second year in a row, dresses bearing cards telling the stories of indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada have been hung in the halls of buildings on campus, and from trees outside.

The dresses are a reminder of a problem that hasn’t been addressed, and isn’t going away.

The display was to remain until Dec. 9.

Jean Dube of Chinook Lodge, who is in charge of this project, said she hopes the dresses will show just how big the issue of the fate of these women still is.

The atrium of the Stan Grad Building has been decorated with dresses hanging from the second floor.

The feeling of it is haunting, with students walking by, glancing, and deciding not to sit below them.

Paola Agusti, a student at SAIT, stopped on Dec. 4, to look at the many dresses being displayed.

“As soon as I came in here I saw it right away,” she said.

Can’t look awayPaola Agusti is compelled to stop and look at the haunting site of so many red dresses at SAIT in Calgary on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (Photo by Thomas Komarniski/The Press)

She had heard about the project and knew it represented the lives of women. But realizing that all the victims were indigenous women was shocking.

“It’s a powerful statement,” Agusti said.

“It really looks like a missing women,” she said. “They’re not there anymore.”

Courtney Garlough of the Alumni and Fund Development office at SAIT, also paused while crossing the campus to look at one of the dresses hanging outside.

“I think it’s a moving and impactful statement,” said Garlough, who also viewed the display last year.

“It should be upfront for people to see,” she said. “It’s a good awareness piece.”

Blake Van Buren, a student at ACAD, stopped to take a look at the same dress.

He said he hadn’t heard about this issue before and initially thought someone had lost some clothing.

Getting closer he saw the card detailing the story of one of the missing indigenous women in Ontario.

“Seems pretty tragic as well as far away,” he said.

“I hope that they find her.”

A lone dress A red dress stands to greet people with a case on a missing and murdered indigenous women at SAIT in Calgary on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (Photo by Thomas Komarniski/The Press)

Josie Nepinak, the executive director of Awo Taan Healing Lodge in Calgary, spoke to an event Dec. 6, and discussed her work with Aboriginal families and women affected by violence.

About Thomas Komarniski 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Thomas Komarniski worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.