Red Embers Project public art installation at Allan Gardens Park, 2019. Courtesy of Richard Rhyme.
Sisters in Spirit vigil 2018 in Allan Gardens Park. Courtesy of Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto.
Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto. Heritage Toronto, 2020.
Sisters in Spirit Vigil
For the past few years, Allan Gardens has been the site of the annual Sisters in Spirit vigil hosted by the Native Women’s Resource Centre. The vigil is held to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women. The vigil is meant to empower the community, dispel myths and stereotypes, support grieving families, and raise awareness in the Toronto area about the experiences of Indigenous women and girls.
1 / 4 (use arrows at bottom right to navigate)
Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women
The amount of cases of indigenous women being murdered or going missing is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the Canadian population. Though women are the life-givers and caregivers of their communities, colonial principles have made Indigenous women one of the lowest regarded groups in Canadian society.
2 / 4 (use arrows at bottom right to navigate)
Trying to understand the problem
In 2016 a government sanctioned inquiry began thanks to the persistence of indigenous activists and allies. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was conducted through a Truth Gathering process that included hearings, research, forensic analysis of police records all guided by elders and traditional knowledge keepers.
3 / 4 (use arrows at bottom right to navigate)
Art as activism, art as healing
The final report was released 3 years later, at the same time Allan Gardens installed Red Embers, an art project dedicated to missing and murdered Indigenous women. 15 female artists created their own banners that expressed how missing and murdered Indigenous women impacted their lives. The public art installation demonstrated the community’s resilience and resistance.