Beyond Invisibility: A REDress Collaboration to Raise Awareness of the Crisis of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women


  • Natalie Marie Lesco St. Francis Xavier University



reconciliation, indigenous, women, REDress


This article describes the impact of a case study of the REDress project on a university campus in Nova Scotia, Canada. The REDress project is a grassroots initiative that operates at the local level to empower Aboriginal women through an evocative art exhibit: the hanging of empty red dresses symbolizing missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the emptiness of the societal response to the violence committed against them. Using a participatory-action research model (PAR), which guides the exploration of the kinds of ideas instilled within this community-based initiative, my research demonstrates the potential this project has to mobilize local Indigenous women‘s perspectives and voices, in order to break the silence to which they are often subjected through structures of oppression. This process relies on the establishment of meaningful connections with members of the StFX Aboriginal Student‘s Society and creating a transparent research process, while also encouraging action in the form of awareness building. The project makes a political statement that resists the ascribed invisibility of Aboriginal women by honouring the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. As a community-based initiative, the REDress project demonstrates the beginnings of reconciliation by cultivating meaningful relationships that provide hope for the future.