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.

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

A brown bear and two cubs were spotted near Killiney Beach May 10. (Michael Dick photo)
Warm spring brings bears out earlier in Okanagan

Residents urged to keep their garbage secure until the morning of pickup

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

Anoop Singh Klair was found guilty of all eight charges against him in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday

The real estate market is hot in Vernon, and across the Okanagan. (John Dent photo)
North Okanagan home prices, demand continue to build

Single family home volumes up 200 per cent, worth average $647,000

An algal bloom on Wood Lake has residents concerned for the body of water's health. (Wendy Innes-Shaw)
‘Wood Lake looks seriously unwell’: Lake Country residents

Algal bloom appears to be getting worse, and stinky

A wildfire southeast of Vernon has been added to the BC Wildfire dashboard Friday, May 14, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire sparks southeast of Vernon

The fire appears to be in a remote area east of Aberdeen Lake

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Enderby’s Small Axe Roadhouse was the subject of nasty backlash after installing two busty beer towers. (Facebook)
Enderby bar’s busty beer taps to stay put despite backlash

‘Many folks have mansplained to us that we are sexist, misogynistic…’

Most Read