‘Our way of healing’: Red Ribbon Skirt Project creates solidarity through sewing campaign

The hum of sewing machines filled the Stanley A. Milner Library as many sewed red skirts Saturday to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The Red Ribbon Skirt Project partnered with the Edmonton Public Library to prepare 100 red dresses throughout the month for Red Dress Day on May 5.

“A close friend of mine, her mother is one of the missing and murdered women,” said Nicole Lucier-Halliday.

“I have a family member who’s missing, and my aunty was murdered when I was five,” said Adrienne Ballantyne.

The free workshops are hosted every Saturday this month, with all materials and machines provided.

Samantha Meng, the project’s coordinator, told CTV News Edmonton that everyone is welcome, no matter their skill level.

“It means that we get to talk to people outside of just our Indigenous community,” Meng said. “I really feel it’s important to raise awareness in every community, not just our own.

“There’s a lot of people out there that don’t know that this happens to women in general, but especially in Indigenous communities,” Meng added.

Meng grew up beside the Highway of Tears in British Columbia, a place where many Indigenous women have gone missing.

“(Growing up), I had no idea that women just went missing all the time,” Meng said. “That it was so normalized.”

“That really affected me as I got older because now I have my own daughter, and I’m like, it is scary. These things are happening right in front of our eyes.”

For Brandi Brazeau, handcrafting the dresses is a way of community-building and processing grief.

“I think about these girls as we’re sewing because it’s our medicine, and sewing ribbon skirts is our way of healing as Indigenous people,” Brazeau said.

“It’s a beautiful thing, and it connects people together,” Brazeau added.

Brazeau said the color red holds a powerful meaning.

“We believe our spirits only see red,” Brazeau explained. “So, that is why we’re making the red ribbon skirts.”

All of the dresses will be gifted to families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit persons at the Red Dress Day walk.

“During the march, all of us will be in red. So we are praying and hoping that they will see from the spirit world and come march with us,” Brazeau added.

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