Yesterday artist and author Christi Belcourt, hosted by Shingwauk Kinomage Gaimig, gave a talk at Algoma University. Her talk focused on her art practice, traditional art, and the Walking With Our Sisters project.
Walking With Our Sisters is a commemorative art installation in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and the United States. The work is a floor installation make up of beaded moccasin vamps arranged in a pathway on red fabric. Each pair of vamps represents one missing or murdered Indigenous woman. Vamps were chosen as the focal point of this project as they are part of an unfinished pair of moccasins and represent the unfinished lives of women.
One of the most inspiring parts of Walking With Our Sisters is the community involvement and support. The project has been entirely crowd-sourced. In June 2012 a call was put out via social media asking people to create moccasin tops for the exhibit. By June 2013 over 1600 vamps had been received. Vamps were donated from people across Canada and the United States and from as far away as Scotland. A map of participants can be seen here. Photographs and descriptions of some of the donated vamps can be seen here.
The collective and is deeply rooted in community and volunteerism, with the organization of the touring being done by a collective. Christi Belcourt described Walking With Our Sisters as a memorial and rooted in ceremony. Her description of the far reaching impacts of the project and the community support was moving and inspirational. Walking With Our Sisters is scheduled to visit over 30 communities in the next five years. The full tour schedule can be seen here.