London, Ontario has strong communities of First Nations and Indigenous people. In 2016, London’s Indigenous peoples population increased by 42% from 6,845 in 2011 to 9,725 in 2016. However, in all of Canada, there are 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women.
When walking up to Western University and down the halls of Fanshawe College, students will be greeted with red dresses as a part of the Red Dress Campaign. Started by Winnipeg native, Jamie Black, the campaign hopes to raise awareness about missing and indigenous women and girls.
The project is striving to collect 600 red dresses in donations by the community, as a visual reminder of the women and girls who have not been found or who have lost their lives. Chris Hannah, the student success advisor in the First nations Centre at Fanshawe College, believes that the issue is not only a concern for Indigenous students.
“We’re hoping that students will take away from this project, that there are small attitudes and changes that they can create within themselves and within their communities, which will hopefully change their dialogue and prevent some of these women from going missing.”
Even with this in mind, many people forget about Indigenous people and their culture. Indigenous people are rich in culture and hold many events such as Pow Wows. Vice President of communications for Western’s Indigenous Student Association, Kierstin Williams hopes that more Western students will be aware of their indigenous history on campus.
“I hope that Western students will learn more about Indigenous presence here at Western and just the community, because, they are on traditional territories right now and there’s many communities around the London area.”
Indigenous Awareness Week at Western is just one of the many efforts to bring awareness to their issues and deep culture. Fanshawe College will have their display of the Red Dress Campaign from December 3rd to December 7th from 10 am until 2 pm.