One thousand one hundred and eighty-one — that’s the number of Indigenous women and girls we know have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada. To raise awareness about this tragedy and to give a voice to the voiceless, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) launched the Faceless Doll Project in 2012.
Seven years later, in concert with the release of the final report by the Government of Canada’s independent National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – and on National Indigenous Peoples Day – NWAC is launching Phase 2 of the Project. This time, giving faces to their faceless dolls.
“Each statistic tells a story, and so to remind everyone not to let the individual lives lost become just another number, NWAC created the Faceless Doll Project. It was a visual and physical reminder of all the strong and beautiful Aboriginal women who have become faceless victims of crime. It also gave Aboriginal mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and friends an opportunity to honour those gone, comfort those left behind and educate those who are unaware of the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across the country,” says Lorraine Whitman, President of the Nova Scotia Chapter of NWAC.
The Project was a resounding success, with Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people getting together at community engagement workshops held from coast to coast to coast to create their very own felt doll. The dolls became part of a travelling art exhibit.
Phase 2 of the Project, called “Putting a Face on Justice: From Calls for Justice to Action,” involves encouraging youth in classrooms across the country to engage in activities designed to help them connect to their hearts, spirits and sense of self. NWAC’s Honouring Project bag contains a toolkit, guide, colouring book and pencils, coloured felt sheets, doll patterns and accessories to create dolls — all the materials necessary to give a face to the once faceless — a fitting tie-in to the release of the National Inquiry’s final report Reclaiming Power and Place but also a new beginning, says Ms. Whitman.
To launch Phase 2, kits for creating their own dolls with faces were sent to every Member of Parliament serving in the House of Commons today.
“The missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are no longer faceless. Their families have given them back their voice. It is now time for us, under the collective umbrella of NWAC, to put faces on our dolls — a visual symbol of healing and transformation, and a way to honour and acknowledge that the voices of our women and their families have been heard.”
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