The red dresses installed at Nelson City Hall for Touchstones Nelson’s presentation of artist Jaime Black’s REDress Project have called our attention and initiated dialogue. Although the red dresses represent devastating losses in the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, they also offer an invitation to learning, action and repair.
This letter encourages those who hold positions of responsibility and decision-making to also become involved. To Nelson’s six elected officials and 170-plus city employees: Your presence as leaders in reconciliation can be a powerful statement to inspire others in turn, just as we have seen with the leaders at Touchstones Nelson Museum.
In recent years, local youth and supporters have been responding powerfully to calls for justice through the From the Heart community-based arts projects. Touchstones Nelson also has a group of youth designing legacy projects to honour the REDress Project after its completion. We hope this work of decolonization will be taken up as an important value in our town. Societal transformation is urgently needed for the safety and thriving of Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people, as is relationship-building with local First Nations and all Indigenous people in our region.
There is a role for everyone. One accessible next step for city officials, and for all citizens, is to attend the remaining learning sessions being hosted by Touchstones Nelson Museum’s Museum Educator, Lesley Garlow. (May 5, May 17 and 26 – see Touchstones Nelson on Facebook). It is through actions for truth and justice that reconciliation becomes possible. May those who hold positions of authority and influence in Nelson make their support for reconciliation visible, committed and enduring.
Carlo Alcos, Jaymie Johnson, Tasha Jollymour, Aaron Korbacher, Andrea Mann, Nathan Wilkinson
From the Heart Kootenays volunteers
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