Red Dress campaign marks 2019 International Women’s Day

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Dallas Weare, a student at North Queens Community School, hangs one of the props for the school&#8217;s Red Dress event, planned in recognition of International Women&#8217;s Week March 4 to 8.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Ira Reinhart-Smith (left) and Gracie Reeves prepare for the Red Dress events organized by the North Queens Community School, which is looking to draw attention to the high proportion of missing and murdered Indigenous women.</p>

As the world recognizes International Woman's Day on March 8, local groups are working to do the same here on the South Shore.

Grade 9 students at North Queens Community School are hosting Red Dress events throughout International Women's Week from March 4 to 8, which will see installations at the school, Wild Cat Community and Miriam Hunt Park.

And they're encouraging students throughout the South Shore Region to participate in the Red Dress campaign, which is a national project aimed at drawing attention to the high rate of missing and murdered women among Canada's Indigenous population.

"This is a problem in our country and one that we need to start talking about. The issue is too silent and the facts need to be better known," Grade 9 student Ira Reinhart-Smith said in a media release that the school issued.

While four per cent of the population in Canada consists of Indigenous women, 16 per cent of missing and murdered women are from its Indigenous communities, according to the release.

The week-long event culminates on March 8 at 6:30 p.m. with a Red Dress Ceremony prepared by the class.

The evening features a sacred fire, traditional Mi'kmaq songs and drumming, as well as student performances, speeches and a moment of reflection with music by the elementary school choir.

"Helping others to understand is our goal so we really hope that people will join us," said Reinhart-Smith.

The South Shore Women's Centre in Lunenburg is hosting a number of activities on March 8, including workshops, an organized woman's walk starting at Shnare's Crossing, Reiki and massage sessions, drumming and singing and an evening of entertainment from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

There will be performances by local women including Jenna Barry, Raging Grannies, Carole Langille, South Shore Ukulele Players, Kendra Breen, The Silver Tones, Peggie Graham and Aine McClellan.

Registration for the workshop began March 1.

Second Story Women's Centre provides supportive counselling to women, referrals, crisis support, advocacy and awareness programs.

Liz McCurdy, the centre's volunteer and administrative support coordinator, says there's good reason to recognize women with a special day.

"There's so many strong and wonderful women out there in our community. And we're all capable, and we all deserve to have the same opportunities as other genders.

"We are not at a state of gender equity for sure. So a lot needs to be done to get there," she added.

Bernice Williams, a consultant who specializes in event planning, facilitation and community development, is organizing a women's pot luck event on March 8 at 821 King Street in Bridgewater from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Williams describes it as a "drop-in kind of afternoon," with no registration required.

"I had such a wonderful response from the ladies' luncheon that I did during Small Business Week, I was looking for another opportunity to connect people," Williams told LighthouseNOW.

One woman has indicated she will do a business launch at the event.

Williams said she wanted the event to be open and accessible to everyone, so there is no entrance fee.

"Just bring what you'd like to bring," she says.

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