Walking with Our Sisters
A Ceremonial Memorial honoring missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit peoples.
June 8, 2018 - June 14, 2018
Over 1,181+ Indigenous women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or murdered in the last 20 years. Many vanished without a trace and did not have adequate inquiry into their disappearance or deaths paid by the media, the general public, politicians and even law enforcement. This is a travesty of justice.
Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) is a commemorative art installation of 1808 pairs of moccasin vamps (tops) created and donated by hundreds of caring and concerned individuals to draw attention to this injustice. An additional 117 children’s vamps were added in May of 2014 during a ceremony at the site of the old Shingwauk Residential School to honour and commemorate the lives of children who never returned home from the schools.
The large collaborative art piece is not so much an “exhibit” as it is a memorial. It follows traditional indigenous ceremonial protocols and is made available to the public through selected galleries and locations throughout North America. The work exists primarily as a floor installation made up of the beaded vamps arranged in a winding path formation on fabric. Viewers remove their shoes to walk on a path of cloth alongside the vamps throughout the duration of the exhibition.
The vamps (“Uppers”) are intentionally not sewn into moccasins to represent the unfinished lives of the women and children, whose lives were cut short when they were taken from us. Collectively together the vamps represent all these women and girls; paying respect to their lives and existence on this earth. They are not forgotten. They are sisters, mothers, aunties, daughters, cousins, grandmothers, nieces, granddaughters, wives and partners. They have been cared for, they have been loved, and they are gone but they have not been forgotten.
Moccasins are symbolic of the path a person walks in life and within some traditions; moccasins are placed on the feet of the person in death to help them on their journey into the next life. Moccasin vamps are the top part of the moccasin that most often carry adornment of some type, whether beads, quills, embroidery or other materials. Whether fully beaded or partially, different nations have developed their own variations on the size, style, shape and choice of imagery on the vamps.