HEALING & HONOURING INDIGENOUS WOMEN & GIRLS IN THE SPIRIT WORLD
Interpretation by Jordis Duke
The Grandmother Earth Dress is a traditional red jingle dress, created by the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), and inspired by Jaime Black’s REDress Project. She honours and acknowledges Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. She also serves as a sacred item of healing for families as well as communities to commemorate their loved ones. She is meant for families to visualize their loved one in beautiful traditional regalia.
Métis artist Jaime Black started the REDress Project (www.theredressproject.org) to call attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes committed against Indigenous women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence. Inspired by her work and our own work with Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people, ONWA created Grandmother Earth Dress.
365 jingles on the dress represent a year round call for justice and safety for Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. While the colour red is not normally part of the Journey Ceremony, this specific dress was born out of vision and ceremony through the guidance and consultation of Elders, Healers, and Knowledge Keepers, where she received her name Grandmother Earth Dress. Through ceremony and teachings, guidance and explanation told that Grandmother Earth Dress came from the Southern Direction to honour women, girls, and Two-Spirit people as missing loved ones and as mothers, daughters, aunties, sisters, grandmothers, nieces and cousins. They will know the dress is made for them. They will know that they are loved.
Grandmother Earth Dress travels throughout Ontario to support families and communities. She is never meant to be worn in this realm but is symbolic of those in the spirit world. ONWA cares and provides ceremony for her four times per year, when she travels, and to prepare her for the community she will be visiting.
ONWA would like to offer special acknowledgement to staff members Collin Graham and Lindsay Tyance, for their dream and hard work to bring forward Grandmother Earth Dress; to recognize Rita Tyance for beadwork; and Jordis Duke for her creative ability to capture the essence of the Grandmother Earth Dress in ‘She Dances …and they dance with her’ artwork (as seen on the opposite side).
Special Thanks to Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc. for their Toolkit.
A piece of Anishanwbek oral history related in a short film type piece about the role women played with the 1850 Robinson Superior Treaty signing that allowed Canada to exist.
A telling of Six Nations history and the role women historically played in government.