SATURDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 12 PM — ROBERTSON THEATRE AT FIRSTONTARIO PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE
Join members of the Red Dress Exhibit collective in conversation about the project.
Moderator: Dr. Robyn Bourgeois
Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement at Brock University
Dr. Robyn Bourgeois (Laughing Otter Caring Woman) is a mixed-race nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) whose Cree family comes from Treaty Eight (Lesser Slave Lake) territory. She was born and raised in Syilx and Splats’in territories of British Columbia and is connected through her three children to the Six Nations of the Grand River. She is an associate professor in the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at Brock, where her scholarly work focuses on Indigenous feminisms, violence against Indigenous women and girls, and Indigenous women’s political activism and leadership. She is currently serving as the university’s Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement. In addition to being an academic, Robyn is also as activist, author, and artist.
Red Dress Collective Members:
Fallon Farinacci is Red River Métis and a child survivor, advocate and speaker for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+. Fallon testified in the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, sharing her story of loss and trauma. Later Fallon joined The National Family Advisory Circle, where she worked closely with other MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ family members and the Commissioners for the National Inquiry. Fallon continues to share her family’s story in hopes of bringing change & awareness across Turtle Island.
24 years old Cayuga Turtle clan from Six Nations. Currently living in St Catherine’s working at the Niagara Regional Native Centre as the Life Long Care Coordinator. Jingle Dress dancer and hand drum singer. Co-Founder of Ham N Scone, MMIWG activist and leader of Strong Water Jrs.
I am Marie Louise, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Mohawk of Kahnawake; born and raised in the Niagara Region. I am a daughter, Mother, Grandmother, Auntie Cousin, Sister and Friend. The Niagara Native community has been nurturing and guiding me for 25 years as I walk with the Grandmothers and teachings of traditions.
Currently I am the Indigenous Graduation Coach for the Niagara Catholic District School board. Understanding the importance and connections of the Youth and the Elders is instrumental in the work that I do in community.
Vanessa’s sister Pamela Jayne Holopainen has been missing since December 14, 2003 which has motivated Vanessa to be an advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit. As an Indigenous woman herself, Vanessa has personally experienced abuse, neglect, racism and poverty. Vanessa has made it her mission to create awareness about the Genocide that is currently happening with MMIWG2S.
Vanessa is Inuk and Ojibwe. Her maternal family is from Sanikiluaq, Nunavut however her mother was born and raised in Moose Factory, ON. Vanessa’s paternal family is from Mattagami First Nation. Vanessa has a true love for the James Bay and the people who live there.
Vanessa has created her own business Resilient Inuk Creations and chooses to create red dress items out of sealskin in honour of her missing sister. She has recently developed a MMIWG2S Virtual Program to create more awareness across Turtle Island.
Vanessa share’s her sister Pamela’s story on her verified Tik Tok account “Resilient Inuk” where she has over 97,000 followers and over 2 million likes. She has recently been chosen out of over 2400 applicants as a semi-finalist for the Pow Wow Pitch which is a grassroots community of Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island. Vanessa has also done interviews with Global News, CBC radio and many more local news sources.
Vanessa has made it her life mission to spread awareness on MMIWG2S in hopes of prevention of future stolen sisters. Vanessa encourages non-Indigenous peoples to reach out to her to increase their knowledge on the very important subject matter of MMIWG2S.
THE RED DRESS EXHIBIT: IF ONLY THESE DRESSES COULD TELL THEIR STORY is created by Michelle-Elise Burnett and is an ongoing exhibit located in Robertson Theatre that can be viewed Sat 10 Sept from 3-10pm and Sun 11 Sept from 10am-8pm — click here for details on the exhibit.
Based on the 13 Grandmother Moons and the cycle of the women, The Red Dress Exhibit will feature stories of 13 Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) from 13 Indigenous Peoples in Western New York and Niagara whose loved ones fell victim to these crimes. This immersive and poignant exhibit of 13 empty and suspended red dresses tells their untold story.
The exhibit is intended to increase awareness for the epidemic of the ongoing horrific systemic racial crimes targeting Indigenous women and girls; to remember the lost lives of the victims; to teach; to give Indigenous women a voice; to inspire a new cross-cultural generation based on inclusivity, compassion, love and; to collectively offer the MMIWG our love, gratitude create a safe, nurturing and welcoming environment for Indigenous Peoples. With Indigenous women being victims of murder more than 10 times the national average, this exhibit is about empathic LOVE.
Tickets are pay-what-you-can including FREE.