The federal government is committing $13 million to fund more than 100 projects commemorating the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
“The point of this commemoration fund is to ensure that the stories of our stolen sisters are put in their rightful place in Canada’s history,” said Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef at an announcement in Winnipeg Monday.Monsef added the projects will also help toward healing for families.
Money for the fund comes after the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called on the government to create a commemoration fund in its interim report released in 2017.
In total, 105 projects were approved by an external indigenous review committee said Monsef.Those projects include art installations and exhibits, productions such as movies and operas, as well as creating safe spaces for women.
Communities were tasked with submitting proposals outlining the project and costs.
When it came to proposals Monsef says there was only one condition.
“Families are at the heart of this… commemorations had to have a letter of support from families,” she said.
One of those family members is Angela Lavallee.Lavallee testified at the Vancouver hearings about her nine-month-old granddaughter who died in 2015.
Lavallee says a coroner concluded the cause of death undetermined but the family doesn’t accept this conclusion.
She teamed up with Manitoba Moon Voices, a grassroots organization in Manitoba, to propose a structure that will sit on Winnipeg’s frozen Red River in the winter.
The structure will be apart of a series of warming huts designed to act as a shelter along the city’s popular Red River skating trail.
It will be in the shape of a woman and will act as an educational tool for people passing by.
“We want to be able to draw in community outside of our own community so we want her to sit on the river,” said Lavallee. “Just resilient. Kind of like the symbolization of Indigenous women themselves.”
In the summer Lavallee hopes the structure can rest on a piece of land at The Forks.
The Manitoba Inuit Association put forth a proposal for The Red Amautiit Project, which will see a team from the organization travel to communities in Nunavut and northern Labrador to work with locals on a traditional sewing project.
The amautiit or amaut (singular) is a traditional Inuit women’s parka designed with a large pouch in the back where mothers carry their children.
“It symbolizes women and girls and as we know the red dress is the commemorative symbol for MMIWG,” said Rachel Dutton, executive director of the Manitoba Inuit Association.
“Inuit really want to create that space for their stories and experiences.”Dutton says.
The Red Amautiit Project will open up the space for Inuit women to share their traditional teachings.
She hopes to see it become either a traveling exhibit or placed as a permanent exhibit in a museum in the future.
Projects will be rolled out over the next two years.