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In Sooke, red dress sculpture focuses on missing, murdered Indigenous women

Artwork gifted to district by Sooke Rotary Club
Rotarian Margot Swinburnson (left) Mayor Maja Tait on Friday unveiled a new art installation dedicated to missing Indigenous women and girls. (Contributed – District of Sooke)

There is more to a metal red dress sculpture on the grounds of the Sooke Municipal Hall than just a piece of gifted public art.

It’s a statement on the ongoing struggle to solve the mysteries of the more than 1,600 Indigenous women and girls across the country who have gone missing or been murdered over the last 20 years.

“Acknowledging such truths is hard. This installation is another reminder of the calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and provides an opportunity to further reflect on Sooke as a Compassionate City,” said Mayor Maja Tait at the unveiling of the sculpture on Friday.

“In 2019, Sooke declared itself a Compassionate City. This declaration is an ongoing commitment to caring for everyone in our community. When people see the red dress, I hope they take a moment to reflect on the hard truths while also being inspired, like Pyper Phillips and the Rotary Club of Sooke, to take meaningful action and prevent further loss and harm.”

READ: Mayor Tait’s address at the unveiling

The metal dress was crafted by Pyper Phillips, a Métis student at Edward Milne Community School in 2021, from a template designed by Vancouver Island First Nations artist Karver Everson.

The Sooke Rotary Club donated the sculpture, and is one of two REDress Project installations in Sooke. The other is located at EMCS.

The REDress Project was started by Métis artist and educator Jaime Black. She was a teacher in Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba, where Helen Betty Osborne was murdered while walking at night. It was years before the two men who killed her faced justice.

RELATED: Red dresses hang across Vancouver Island to keep missing women front of mind

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Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

It's my passion to contribute to the well-being of the community by connecting people through the power of reliable news and storytelling.
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