Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Stz’uminus councillor Shawna Seymour holds a red dress beside Chief Roxanne Harris and Ladysmith councillor Amanda Jacobson. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus councillor Shawna Seymour holds a red dress beside Chief Roxanne Harris and Ladysmith councillor Amanda Jacobson. (Cole Schisler photo)
Stz’uminus councillor Tim Harris and Ladysmith Town councillor Duck Paterson work together to hang new red dresses. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus councillor Tim Harris and Ladysmith Town councillor Duck Paterson work together to hang new red dresses. (Cole Schisler photo)

Representatives of Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith showed solidarity against racism on Saturday (April 17) when the group of leaders met to hang red dresses from trees near Coronation Square Mall in Ladysmith.

Last week, two men were filmed removing dresses from trees in the area with a large branch, then discarding them in the forest.

RELATED: Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Ladysmith

After the video was posted to social media, their actions were quickly condemned by both Stz’uminus and Ladysmith. Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris reached out to Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone and the two made plans for a small ceremony to replace the removed dresses.

Stz’uminus Elder, George Harris opened the ceremony with a song, praying for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls — praying for healing and justice.

Members of the Ladysmith community took it upon themselves to organize their own efforts. Before the ceremony took place, individuals had already hung new dresses in the trees alongside the Island Highway. Some have placed red dresses on their homes and in their yards.

Several community members have also donated dresses to Ladysmith City Hall. Stz’uminus and the Town of Ladysmith plan to hang the dresses from Coronation Square to the northern edge of Oyster Bay, symbolically connecting the two communities together.

“I feel so supported and loved by the community,” Harris said. “We have a ceremony in our community where we blanket and this feels like that — it feels like we’re getting blanketed with love and support from the whole community.”

Dresses will be placed in front of Ladysmith City Hall and at Bob Stewart Park, which is the northern entrance to Ladysmith.

“Throughout the next several days we’ll see it grow and grow,” Stone said. “Today we all send a message together from our collective communities that we are in solidarity together.”

Stz’uminus councillor, Tim Harris said that the ceremony was a ‘teachable moment’.

“We don’t have to be mad. We have to get out there and do our part — do the work that really needs to be done. We need education. The boys that took the dresses down probably had no clue what was going on or what they represented, so it’s a real teachable moment,” he said.

The red dresses are a symbol for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The dresses will remain up until at least a week after May 5.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NEW CUTLINE Payphone use is declining dramatically. (Black Press Files)

One of the last remaining street payphones in Kelowna. (Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News)
Last call approaches for payphones?

Mobile phones diminishing need

James Taylor, a Saanich resident and member of the Curve Lake First Nation, walked all over Greater Victoria on May 5 in honour of Red Dress Day and the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Devon Bidal/News staff)
Indigenous man walks Greater Victoria to honour missing and murdered women and girls

James Taylor, of the Curve Lake First Nation, marks Red Dress Day with healing walk, songs

Victoria police is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying this suspect after they allegedly robbed a Douglas Street bank on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Police seek identity of suspect who alllegedly robbed Victoria bank

Officers were called to a bank in the 1000-block of Douglas Street just after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested for allegedly spitting, yelling anti-Asian racial slurs at a mother and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

Victoria police said Wednesday that they continue to look for Belinda Ann Cameron, who was last seen on May 5, 2005. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police still looking for Belinda Cameron who was last seen 16 years ago

Cameron was reported missing on June 4, 2005, and her case is deemed suspicious

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Island man sentenced in Nanaimo after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, of Nanoose Bay, given six-month sentence

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

Most Read