The Red Dress Exhibit: If Only These Dresses Could Tell Their Story 

November 9 - 13, 2022 at 6:00 pmFirstOntario Performing Arts Centre



The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) is honoured to announce the return of The Red Dress Exhibit: If Only These Dresses Could Tell Their Story. This highly impactful, immersive gallery and sound installation premiered at ArtPark in Lewiston, NY and had its Canadian premiere at the 6th Annual Celebration of Nations in Robertson Theatre at the PAC in downtown St. Catharines this past September. This important exhibit will be remounted in Robertson Theatre at the FirstOntario PAC and will run Wednesday 9 November to Sunday 13 November 2022. 

Created by Michele-Elise Burnett (Métis MNO citizen with Algonquin roots, Bear Clan), Artistic Director of Celebration of Nations and President of Kakekalanicks, and in collaboration with affected families, Elders, and local Indigenous community members, this exhibit honours Indigenous voices silenced far too soon and shares the untold stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and 2Spirit (MMIWG2S) from Niagara and Western New York with a powerful and surreal collection of 13 suspended red dresses adorned in ribbons, beadwork, appliqués and paint in an immersive gallery setting.

“The exhibit is intended to increase awareness for the epidemic of the ongoing horrific systemic racial crimes targeting Indigenous women and girls; to remember the lost lives of the victims; to teach; to give Indigenous women a voice; to inspire a new cross-cultural generation based on inclusivity, compassion, love and; to collectively offer the MMIWG2S our love, gratitude, and create a safe, nurturing and welcoming environment for Indigenous Peoples,” says exhibit creator and curator, Michele-Elise Burnett. “With Indigenous women being victims of murder more than 10 times the national average, this exhibit is about empathic LOVE.”

Based on the 13 Grandmother Moons and the cycle of the women, The Red Dress Exhibit will feature stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S) from Indigenous Peoples whose loved ones fell victim to these crimes. Each red dress will be as unique and beautiful as the MMIWG2S it represents, and the ribbons sewn on the dresses will be the keepers of their story. This exhibit will include a produced audio documentary for each dress, narrative signage, and an interpretive brochure. Attendees should bring earbuds for their phones to listen to audio documentary as they walk through the space.

All are welcome to the opening reception on Wednesday 9 November at 6pm in the Algoma Lobby at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

There will also be a special presentation of the documentary Finding Dawn on Sat 12 Nov at 3 pm in The Film House. Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh’s compelling documentary puts a human face on a national tragedy – the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Finding Dawn takes a journey into the heart of Indigenous women’s experience, from Vancouver’s skid row, down the Highway of Tears in northern BC, and on to Saskatoon, where the murders and disappearances of these women remain unsolved.

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