A call to end violence
This is the REDress campaign - a visual installation crying out for all Canadians to look beyond the headlines. The project is brought to SAIT by Chinook Lodge as part a collaborative effort to bring awareness to the violence that takes place both on and off campus.
Stand Up Against Violence
On Dec. 2, SAITSA will host Stand Up Against Violence from 11 am - 1 pm in the Irene Lewis Atrium, to create dialogue around all types of violence, break down stigma victims of violence often suffer and increase access to important resources.
Thao Nguyen, SAITSA VP Student Life, explains the event is a call to action, but also a step towards breaking down barriers for those who have been impacted by physical, verbal, sexual or emotional violence.
"Events like this shed light on what's going on inside and outside of the community and brings encouragement to students and lets them know they have the support and are not alone. We are here for them," Nguyen says.
The REDress Project
The Chinook Lodge launched the REDress Project on campus Nov. 25 in lead up to Dec 2. Dresses will be brought to the Irene Lewis for the event; however, those displayed in the Reg Erhardt Library windows will remain until Dec. 11.
Angela Grier, Chinook Lodge Coordinator, says it's campaigns like this that help people begin to understand the real issues indigenous peoples face today and why these issues exist.
"This is very real to us in this region," Grier explains. "As an indigenous woman today, we're at more risk to be attacked, assaulted and murdered than any other [female] demographic in Canada. The REDress [Project] is to bring people awareness, get people talking, learning a little bit more, asking a few more questions - that's better than nothing. That's better than we were yesterday. That's better than where we were last year."
The REDress Project was spearheaded five years ago by Manitoba Métis artist Jaime Black. It has since been exhibited at the Museum for Human Rights and made its way across Canada in a variety of public spaces, including post-secondary campuses.
Grier, who sits on the First Nations Women's Council on Economic Security, a Government of Alberta appointed board, explains campaigns like this help to create awareness across Canada and on SAIT's campus little by little. As part of their efforts, Chinook Lodge also hosts a monthly Cultural Lecture Series, which includes cultural ceremonies and speaking events that are open to public.
Chinook Lodge Advisor Tapaarjuk Moore, who created displays featuring photographs of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) shares how close this issue is to home.
"I'm able to speak from first-hand experience about this issue," she says. "We lost my aunt in 2003 - she was murdered ... It just happened one day, and she was gone."
Moore's Auntie Donna was 35 at the time of her death. Although the case was solved, it's still very raw for Moore, knowing how many indigenous families don't have the same closure, including SAIT students, who've shared they have family and friends who are still missing.
Moore says many have been impacted in some way - some opened up to Moore about their own experience.
"We need to let people know - and indigenous people know - you matter," encourages Moore. "We matter and we're human beings like everybody else. Just to recognize that - that all human beings are valuable."
As part of the Stand Up Against Violence event, SAITSA and its partners are asking the SAIT community to make a pledge to end violence. Attendees to the event can write their own message which will be posted on social media.
Nguyen explains the ultimate goal of this campaign is for people who do experience violence to feel safe reporting when something has happened to them and, of course, to reduce instances so we all feel safer in the first place.
"We want students to feel they have the support, that they are not alone and the people who are supporting them believe their story of what they are going through," says Nguyen.
SAIT community and members of the public can also join the conversation online, by tagging #SAITSAstandsup on Twitter and Instagram.