Students from Ladysmith Secondary School’s Land and Language class honoured missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people with a small ceremony on Wednesday, May 5.
LSS students, Cathrine Sampson and Cianna Vincent led the ceremony. Students, teachers and administrators gathered around a red dress in the school’s foyer and sang the Women’s Warrior Song — a song that has become synonymous with the red dress movement in Canada.
The LSS ceremony was optional for other students to join. Students from an LSS gym class stood along the edges of the foyer to watch the ceremony.
“It made me really happy that all of these people are here raising awareness and that they’re supporting us,” Vincent said.
The Ladysmith community at large has shown tremendous support for the ReDress project after two vandals removed red dresses from the highway near Coronation Mall. Political leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith rehung the red dresses at a small ceremony in April and many Ladysmith residents hung red dresses in front of their homes and businesses.
“It’s amazing to see everybody’s reaction and how we all came together to recognize this important thing that some have tried to take down and take away,” Sampson said.
LSS Aboriginal Education teacher Brenda Kohlruss said that she is used to suffering the impacts of racism in silence and solitude, but she was inspired by Sampson and Vincent’s leadership.
“Cianna was one of the ones that pushed me to ask for teachers to join us,” Kohlruss said. “She reminded me that we can ask others to acknowledge us and ask them to join us.”
Kohlruss called the ceremony and public support a great first step, adding that there is still a long road ahead to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.
“I want to see us walking together more often. I need to see a lot less racism, a lot less gender-based violence and more strength in our communities — all of our communities.”