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Photo credit by Landon Allen, Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation/Provided courtesy Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre.

Library to display red dresses

By Randy Thoms May 2, 2023 | 6:51 PM

The Fort Frances Public Library is looking for red dresses.

It is planning an outdoor art outdoor display as part of Red Dress Day this Friday.

Cultural Heritage Knowledge Series Coordinator Jennifer Thorpe says it is inspired by the 2010 Red Dress Project created by Jamie Black.

“She created displays across Canada with hundreds of donated red dresses that she hung outside to raise awareness and to honour the thousands of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people subject to violence in Canada. So the library this year, as a visual support to May 5 Red Dress Day, is going to hang red dresses just directly north of the library in the trees on Second Street,” says Thorpe.

Thorpe says red was selected for its eye-catching appeal and that it represents vitality and violence.

An Indigenous friend of Black’s also explained that red is the only colour that the spirits can see and can be used to call the spirits of the lost back to reconnect with their loved ones.

Red Dresses have since become a symbol for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and two-spirited people.

Thorpe notes the level of violence that persists against these specific groups is staggering.

“Indigenous women and girls are twelve times more likely to be murdered or missing than other women in Canada or sexually assaulted three times more often than non-Indigenous women,” notes Thorpe.

The library has about thirty trees where Thorpe would like to hang red dresses.

Anyone willing to donate a dress can drop it off at the library by the end of the day on Thursday.

“Perhaps they could do this in memory of a family member to honour Indigenous friends. It would be wonderful to have community support. We would be glad to return the dresses.”

Residents are encouraged to view the display once it appears.



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