By Celeste Pedri-Spade, WWOS Thunder Bay
Preparations to welcome a sacred art bundle honouring the lives of murdered and missing Indigenous women of Canada and the United States are currently underway in Thunder Bay. Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) consists of 1763+ moccasin vamps (tops) and 108 pairs of children’s vamps created and donated by hundreds of caring and concerned individuals. It will be hosted by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery September 19 to October 12.
In late 2013, a local group of community members came together to plan how to bring WWOS to Thunder Bay in a way that respects local Anishinabae protocols and engages other members of the community in the important work of addressing the ongoing violence and injustices Indigenous women face every day.
Over the past months, Anishinaabekwe Elder Wanda Baxter has provided support and guidance to this group. “This is really about a journey that we are all taking together,” states Baxter. “This is what the vamps are doing—journeying—and we need to welcome them, look after them and the people who visit with them in their healing.”
To date, the local WWOS group has held two community conversations to seek direction and guidance of local Elders, collect important feedback and ideas from community members about extended programming, and build a volunteer base. In partnership with local organizations, several bead-ins have been held in the city. Plans are underway to offer extended programming including women’s self-defense workshops, an art auction, and more bead-ins.
Third Community Conversation: Saturday September 6, 1-4 p.m., Fort William First Nation Community Complex (Cultural Room)
WWOS Opening Ceremony: Friday September 19, 7:30 p.m., Thunder Bay Art Gallery
Film: From Walk-A-Mile: Targets and Heroes and The Way Forward, Saturday September 20, 7-9 p.m., Finlandia Club, 314 Bay St.
All community members are welcome to attend. For more information visit www.walkingwithoursisters.ca, and for local updates, find Walking With Our Sisters Thunder Bay on Facebook. To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.