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Thursday, 22 February 2018 06:56

REDress Project a big part of Med. Hat’s Journey of Reconciliation Conference

Written by  Ryan Dahlman
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Whitney Ogle in front of REDress display. Whitney Ogle in front of REDress display.

A display of a REDress Project filled the Centennial Hall of the Medicine Hat College from Feb. 14-17.

It wasn't the first time the REDress Project was initially held at the College in 2016 but definitely was an important part of the recent A Journey of Reconciliation Conference.
Whitney Ogle, Indigenous Student Specialist at the college says the conference and the REDress Project was meant both for education for the public but as well, part of the healing and reconciliation process for those of indigenous ancestry.
"A really great mixture of both: we have been getting both. We get some people coming in saying 'I can't believe I needed this healing; I can't believe it effected me this for us that's healing,'" Ogle explained prior to the conference sessions starting. "But we also want that sharing and education and that we come together as a collective and support this movement and putting an end to our women being murdered and missing."
The REDress Project was started by Jaime Black, a Manitoba Métis artist to bring needed attention to the fact of so many aboriginal women being murdered or who have gone missing. Red has been described as a very spiritual colour for indigenous people. 
"It is a symbol of our Nations. The red is the red road on which we walk on which is the blood of our ancestors, that good honour those before us," said Ogle. 
According to her website, Black states "The REDress Project, focuses around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. It is an installation art project based on an aesthetic response to this critical national issue. The project seeks to collect 600 red dresses by community donation that will later be installed in public spaces throughout Winnipeg and across Canada as a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us. Through the installation I hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence."
Ogle said that while the general public has heard of the issue, she said the scope of the situation may not be understood.
"In my experience, people are aware but there needs to be more awareness," explained Ogle. "There are times where media and resources are information may be skewed or not the proper truth of that information, so the REDress Project has brought light to those truths, has brought light to those skewed information, to bring out the truth of our murdered and missing indigenous women.
"There are a lot of people who want to support, there are a lot of people who are curious, there are lots of people who have no idea what it is about. ... What is the Red Dress Project? What does it mean? Why do we use Red Dresses? Even, is there an awareness needed for murdered and missing women? I also think for some people, it is not a reality and so hopefully we want to help bring some capacity around that. So what we also want to connect, so even though it's for our murdering and missing indigenous women, really, it's our women. So we honour and believe in the human nation so when we're talking to people, we try to inform them that this is about the human nation and women as much as it's about our indigenous women, as women we need to stand together because we are being murdered or (going missing)."
Also included in the Journey of Reconciliation Conference was an opening Sacred Fire Ceremony at the Saamis Tepee site, speakers at the Red Talks seminar, conference sessions as well as a KAIROS Blanket Exercise and round dance.
These sessions were intended "to educate attendees on topics including the legacy of Residential Schools, the miracle of forgiveness, healing through art therapy, Native traditional games and realities."
Minus the opening ceremony, the remainder took place at the College, a main organizers and sponsors of the event. Ogle says this isn't the first such conference in Medicine Hat as the city's Miywasin Friendship Centre has hosted such conferences in the past, but this year partnered up with the College, the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat, Sunrise Rotary Club and The Blood Tribe Department of Health Inc.The conference was free of charge.
To find out about the REDress Project  can check out Black's website at

Read 148 times Last modified on Thursday, 22 February 2018 06:58