It’s been one year since Walking With Our Sisters opened in Edmonton on October 2, 2013. Hard to believe it’s been only one, actually.
When the call went out to artists to submit vamps, I had no idea that we would receive over 1,700 pairs from 1372 different people throughout North America and overseas. I think about all the people who made the vamps with love in their hearts, and tears in their eyes, just wanting to demonstrate in their own small way their love and care for these women, who have been taken from this world too soon, and their families. I think about all the families who have come, sometimes with an Eagle feather or pair of vamps to be added and I think about how much I wish their reality and grief was not theirs to carry.
I think about the women and the girls, how their lives mattered, and how we each have large circles of people around us that we affect even if we don’t realize it. I think about the children brought to residential schools, never to return home again, and the families who grieved for them. I think about all the Elders, Grandmothers and Keepers who have come together in ceremony and respect, showing that yes, indeed, there is power in being gentle.
There is power in being kind. I think about all the volunteers, hundreds, who give and give and expect nothing in return. And I think about all the people who have sent in sage, tobacco or money to help this continue. And of course I think about the people on the National Collective who work quietly behind the scenes to make this project happen. I have enjoyed being a part of something that has four main guiding principals: “All are welcome,” “We follow Elders protocols,” “We approach everyone equally with love and kindness,” “Everyone leaves their careers or politics at the door.”
I send out my prayers for the safe return of those who are still missing.
From my heart I thank each and every person who has contributed in their own way and I look forward to another year.
WWOS has visited 7 communities over the year. It closes in Thunder Bay on October 12 and opens in Saskatoon on October 31. The project will end in September of 2019.