Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Stz’uminus councillor Shawna Seymour holds a red dress beside Chief Roxanne Harris and Ladysmith councillor Amanda Jacobson. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus councillor Shawna Seymour holds a red dress beside Chief Roxanne Harris and Ladysmith councillor Amanda Jacobson. (Cole Schisler photo)
Stz’uminus councillor Tim Harris and Ladysmith Town councillor Duck Paterson work together to hang new red dresses. (Cole Schisler photo)Stz’uminus councillor Tim Harris and Ladysmith Town councillor Duck Paterson work together to hang new red dresses. (Cole Schisler photo)

Representatives of Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith showed solidarity against racism on Saturday (April 17) when the group of leaders met to hang red dresses from trees near Coronation Square Mall in Ladysmith.

Last week, two men were filmed removing dresses from trees in the area with a large branch, then discarding them in the forest.

RELATED: Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Ladysmith

After the video was posted to social media, their actions were quickly condemned by both Stz’uminus and Ladysmith. Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris reached out to Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone and the two made plans for a small ceremony to replace the removed dresses.

Stz’uminus Elder, George Harris opened the ceremony with a song, praying for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls — praying for healing and justice.

Members of the Ladysmith community took it upon themselves to organize their own efforts. Before the ceremony took place, individuals had already hung new dresses in the trees alongside the Island Highway. Some have placed red dresses on their homes and in their yards.

Several community members have also donated dresses to Ladysmith City Hall. Stz’uminus and the Town of Ladysmith plan to hang the dresses from Coronation Square to the northern edge of Oyster Bay, symbolically connecting the two communities together.

“I feel so supported and loved by the community,” Harris said. “We have a ceremony in our community where we blanket and this feels like that — it feels like we’re getting blanketed with love and support from the whole community.”

Dresses will be placed in front of Ladysmith City Hall and at Bob Stewart Park, which is the northern entrance to Ladysmith.

“Throughout the next several days we’ll see it grow and grow,” Stone said. “Today we all send a message together from our collective communities that we are in solidarity together.”

Stz’uminus councillor, Tim Harris said that the ceremony was a ‘teachable moment’.

“We don’t have to be mad. We have to get out there and do our part — do the work that really needs to be done. We need education. The boys that took the dresses down probably had no clue what was going on or what they represented, so it’s a real teachable moment,” he said.

The red dresses are a symbol for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The dresses will remain up until at least a week after May 5.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Kelowna seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
Accessibility concerns raised as Kelowna ponders banning vehicles from Knox Mountain

Knox Mountain Drive, which leads to two lookouts, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began

Cops for Kids riders will be spinning 30 feet in the air on scissor lifts at SaveOn Foods locations in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)
Cops reach new heights for Okanagan kids

Nor-Val Rentals is doing the heavy lifting Saturday in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Kelowna OK Tire closed due to COVID-19 exposure

The business will remain closed until May 11

Most Read