Smoke curled through the air as the red tarp was removed and the Legislative Assembly’s new art installation was revealed.
Dozens gathered for the unveiling of the new Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) monument in front of the Legislative Assembly building on Wednesday.
The monument was designed by Inuvialuit artist Myrna Pokiak, who unveiled her creation along with MLAs Frederick Blake, Jr. and Lesa Semmler. The centre of the piece is a hollow red parka. A traditional drum forms the base of the monument. Both feathers and hearts are repeating motifs in the work. “A lot of people look up to the sky, they look up, and they’re speaking with a lost loved one,” said Pokiak.
Behind the parka are feathers in the shape of an infinity symbol, in honour of the family and friends of MMIWG “who have a deep desire to go to infinity and beyond to seek answers, to find justice,” said Pokiak.
“I think the location chosen here is probably one of the most important places it could be,” she said. “If things don’t change, this is gonna be that reminder walking through until that change happens.”
Wednesday was the National Day of Action for MMIWG. In 2014, the RCMP identified more than 1,000 Indigenous female homicides between 1980 and 2012, and 164 Indigenous women missing during the same time period, although the actual numbers may be higher.