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Stop Violence Against Aboriginal Women Action Group – Day 1

September 12, 2010

On Saturday, September 11, aceartinc.’s flux space was turned over to Stop Violence Against Aboriginal Women Action Group including collaborating artist, Leah Decter, and community members to discuss the epidemic of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada, and more specifically, within our own city of Winnipeg.

The day unfolded like this…

SVAAWAG members arrived before the official start time to set up the room. They installed two lengths of deep golden coloured cloth on the walls, onto which they transcribed statements shared in response to two questions recorded at various places throughout the city since beginning their project, in advance, on August 15. The participants were all people affected by violence in various ways. Locations included local shelters and community health clinics, among other sites.  The questions were:

  • What do you want Winnipeggers to know about missing and murdered Aboriginal Women?
  • How can you, we take action to stop the violence?

Next, as participants arrived, the group provided an introduction to their work as a collective. Each participant then introduced his/herself and expressed concerned views regarding violence in our community, and beyond. Many elements were raised by the very diverse group of participants through the course of discussion, including the realization of the disproportionate amount of violence faced by Aboriginal women as an effect of colonization and the residential school experience. The connection between violence and intergenerational experience was also addressed. The need for all people to unlearn racist and sexist behaviour was highlighted, and the need for all people to work together to find an end to this violence was emphasized

In addition to adding their own statements in response to the two questions, all participants became involved in what was described as a “dotmocracy”, a marking system allowing each person to indicate which of the statements marked on the cloth resonated with them most deeply by placing sticker dots next to the statements in question.

At this time, participants also indicated areas within and around the city where they felt these statements should be made visible. A very long list of ideas was compiled with a view to being considered more carefully at a later period on the development of a project focused on helping to circulate the statements collected.

When each person finished participating in the “dotmocracy” process, the statements that appeared most popular became the focus of further discussion both in terms of their suitability to be presented on t-shirts, as well as how they could work in other types of materials that might be created for circulation. The group looked for themes and other ways of connecting statements. They also reflected on the nature of each message and how it would be presented by the person giving the message/and received by the person reading the message in different circumstances.

At the end of the session, close to 18 statements were selected for further reflection, and eventual placement on a series of t-shirts that will, when worn and presented one next to the other, will create a human billboard with a message: No More Stolen Sisters.  The phrase, No More Stolen Sisters, was borrowed from an Amnesty International report of the same title.

This project, intended to grow and develop over the whole course of Showing Up, Speaking Out will be re-visited again for a two-hour session on Saturday, September 18 (1:00 – 3:00 p.m.). During this time, participants will determine how the other statements can be presented (i.e. the type of material and method of circulation), as well as begin discussing potential locations for the human billboard to be presented in the form of a collaborative intervention.  Shortly after that, the interventions will begin. Participants interested in being involved in this aspect of the project shared their contact information with SVAAWAG. If you would like to contact them directly about being involved, please do:

Another way to get involved in this project is to “Show Up”. Please join SVAAWAG again on Sept 18 at aceartinc (2nd Floor – 290 McDermot Ave.) from 1:00 – 3:00. Drop in participation is most welcome!

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