Walking With Our Sisters – Thunder Bay

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Women sharing the story of the missing and murdered sisters is a way to remember and honour the women, and to respect them too.
Women sharing the story of the missing and murdered sisters is a way to remember and honour the women, and to respect them too.

The Eagle Staffs at the Walking With Our Sisters at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery
The Eagle Staffs at the Walking With Our Sisters at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery

Care and Love for Missing and Murdered Women

THUNDER BAY – “Walking With Our Sisters” (WWOS), a Commemorative Art Installation for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to be hosted at Thunder Bay Art Gallery September 18 to October 12, 2014.

Walking With Our Sisters

To walk the circle is a humbling experience. You will see vamps, made by family members, or loved ones of the missing and murdered women. The sheer numbers, lined up along the floor of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery are an indication of the true scope of the murdered and missing women, and the depth of love and care that remains with their family members and loved ones.

Women sharing the story of the missing and murdered sisters is a way to remember and honour the women, and to respect them too.
Women sharing the story of the missing and murdered sisters is a way to remember and honour the women, and to respect them too.

The art installation is made up of more than 1,780 pairs of moccasin tops that have been created by 1,372 caring and concerned people to honour and pay respect to the lives and existence of the missing and murdered Indigenous women across North America.

For those who have been to Anishinawbek events, and realize the significance of the circle, at the Walking With Our Sisters, one walks counter-clockwise. That is to respect the women.

On the Eagle Staffs in the centre, these are special Eagle Staffs which were made for the women. On the left Eagle Staff, the feathers are upward, which represents the women who have left and are now in the Spirit World. On the right, the feathers face downward, they are for the missing women who there remains hope that one day they will be found.

Among the collection are vamps that were submitted from Thunder Bay, northwestern Ontario as well the northwestern United States. Each pair of moccasin tops represents an Indigenous woman who is missing or murdered. They are not forgotten.

“This amazing exhibit draws together communities in one voice calling out for justice for Indigenous women and girls,” Regional Chief Beardy said. “It is events and exhibitions like this that not only honour our women but it also increases the awareness of this human rights crisis that is happening right now in this country.”

The collaborative art exists as a floor installation made up of beaded vamps arranged in a path and turtle formation on fabric and includes cedar boughs. Viewers remove their shoes to walk on a path of cloth alongside the vamps. Each pair of vamps (or “uppers” as they are also called) represents one missing or murdered Indigenous woman. The unfinished moccasins represent the unfinished lives of the women whose lives were cut short.