As part of Sexual Violence Awareness Week, kihêw waciston, the university's Indigenous Centre, helped organize several events centred on education and healing in recognition of the second annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Honouring and Awareness Day on October 4.
The events, which included creating a community jingle dress, contributing to the grassroots Moose Hide Campaign and a research presentation on the portrayal of how Indigenous women are portrayed in Halloween costumes. Each activity, says Terri Suntjens, director of Indigenous Initiatives, is linked to the university’s commitment to addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.
“It’s our responsibility as a teaching institution to connect our students with the calls to action,” says Terri. “All of our students – whether they are future law enforcement officers, nurses, journalists – need to know about the calls related to justice, and be able to look critically at how we handle and portray missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
The individual events held on October 4 were about building awareness and helping people see themselves as part of a larger initiative, says Terri. And while kihêw waciston is happy to provide support, she adds that responding to the calls is a responsibility we all hold.
“In her most recent column, President Saucier talked about digging deeper into institutional priorities like implementing the calls to action and reflecting on how they apply to every person at the university,” says Terri. “There are many things each of us can do, including having important discussions like those we had yesterday as part of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Honouring and Awareness Day.”
Students, faculty and staff gathered to design individual jingles to honour friends and family of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The jingles were then attached to a dress that was worn during a jingle dress dance, which is a healing dance, at the end of the session.
The finished dress, decorated with fabric and jingles (pictured above), is a symbol that honours and recognizes missing and murdered Indigenous women and their families. The dress will be on display in kihêw waciston and worn during jingle dress dances at future events.
The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who are standing up against violence toward women and children.
Wearing a square of moose hide illustrates a commitment to honouring, respecting and protecting women and children, and working together to end violence against women and children.
Keestin O’Dell, student engagement advisor at kihêw waciston, shared research he first conducted as a sociology student at MacEwan that looked at the portrayal of Indigenous women in Halloween costumes.
Creating a voice
"In 1970, my Aunt Stella was 19 years old and six months pregnant. One day, she went out into the bush with people she knew and just disappeared.
When my family went to the police for help, not much was done. The police did look for a bit, but didn’t communicate with my family — they just heard rumours about the case."
Read more of Roslyn's story.