This month is about women
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’.
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.