This month is about women

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - By Matthew Mccully

Oc­to­ber is Women’s His­tory Month.

The Len­noxville and District Women’s Cen­tre (LDWC), in ad­di­tion to post­ing bi­ogra­phies of sig­nif­i­cant women through­out his­tory on its face­book page, kicked off the month by rec­og­niz­ing Sis­ters in Spirit Day on Oct.4.

Two red dresses hang from the tree out­side the LDWC of­fice and will re­main there for the rest of month. Their pur­pose is to serve as a re­minder of the es­ti­mated 1,200 miss­ing and mur­dered in­dige­nous women and girls in Canada.

The Re­dress cam­paign was orig­i­nally started by Saskatchewan Métis artist Jaime Black in 2010 and since the first in­stal­la­tion, has taken on a life of its own.

Sis­ters in Spirit vig­ils, held across the coun­try on Oct. 4, are part of a cam­paign founded by the Na­tive Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada, with the same goal.

The two ini­tia­tives now go hand in hand, with red dresses of­ten be­ing in­cluded in Sis­ters in Spirit vig­ils and cer­e­monies.

One such cer­e­mony took place on Wed­nes­day evening in Wind­sor at Le Poudrière de Wind­sor along the banks of the Watopeka River.

The event was or­ga­nized by the ValSaint-françois Women’s Cen­tre.

At­ten­dees were led slowly through a walk­ing trail to the bank of the river where First Na­tions ad­vo­cate and ac­tivist Sa­ma­nia of­fi­ci­ated a cer­e­mony for Sis­ters in Spirit Day.

Sev­eral red dresses lined the path and were hung in the trees sur­round­ing the cer­e­mony.

Sa­ma­nia be­gan by shar­ing her per­sonal story of sur­viv­ing abuse, which brought tears to many of the vigil par­tic­i­pants.

She then lit sage and of­fered a cleans­ing rit­ual to any­one who wanted.

Sa­ma­nia, ac­com­pa­nied by three other drum­mers and singers then sang a prayer in hon­our of Sis­ters in Spirit. Af­ter the song, the par­tic­i­pants, who were given lyrics sheets, were asked to sing along as a show of sol­i­dar­ity.

The vigil closed with the light­ing of a cer­e­mo­nial pipe filled with tobacco.

There was si­lence for sev­eral min­utes as Sa­ma­nia raised the pipe to the north, south, east and west, which gave par­tic­i­pants time to re­flect on the pur­pose of the vigil, to re­mem­ber and hon­our the lives of miss­ing and mur­dered in­dige­nous women and girls.

That time proved over­whelm­ing for Sa­ma­nia, who broke into tears dur­ing the mo­ment of re­flec­tion.

Sev­eral peo­ple ap­proached and con­soled Sa­ma­nia and stayed by her side as she re­gained her com­po­sure.

She then thanked ev­ery­one who at­tended, and closed the cer­e­mony.

Other sig­nif­i­cant dates to con­sider dur­ing Women’s His­tory Month in­clude In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl, ded­i­cated to cham­pi­oning girls’ rights around the world.

Oct.18 is Per­son’s Day, mark­ing the 1929 de­ci­sion by the Ju­di­cial Com­mit­tee of the Privy Coun­cil of Great Bri­tain to in­clude women in the le­gal def­i­ni­tion of ‘per­sons’.

MATTHEW MCCULLY

Kris­ten Dempsey, Terry Moore and Kathryne Owen of the Len­noxville and District Women’s Cen­tre with one of the red dresses hang­ing from the tree out­side the Len­noxville of­fice. The dresses will be hung there for the month of Oc­to­ber as a vis­ual re­minder of the es­ti­mated 1,200 miss­ing and mur­dered in­dige­nous women and girls in Canada.

PHOTOS BY MATTHEW MCCULLY

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