The Council of Canadians Comox Valley chapter has awarded its annual Community Action Award to Walking With Our Sisters K’ómoks organizers in recognition of their “creative vision and leadership which has expanded and unified our community”.
As noted on the Walking With Our Sisters website, “Walking With Our Sisters is by all accounts a massive commemorative art installation comprised of 1,763+ pairs of moccasin vamps (tops) plus 108 pairs of children’s vamps created and donated by hundreds of caring and concerned individuals to draw attention to [the injustice of missing and murdered Indigenous women and residential schools]. …The work exists as a floor installation made up of beaded vamps arranged in a winding path formation on fabric and includes cedar boughs. Viewers remove their shoes to walk on a path of cloth alongside the vamps.”
The Walking With Our Sisters commemorative art installation.
The Comox Valley Record reports, “The Walking With Our Sisters events, held in July and August on the traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation, included a traditional welcome attended by all other nations, ceremonies and a commemorative art installation at the I-Hos Gallery that honoured and brought awareness to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. …Organizing WWOS K’ómoks took three years. The memorial exhibit drew 4,431 visitors in addition to many people who attended other events. …Thanks to the dedication of families and volunteers across Canada through events like WWOS, the federal government recently announced it will launch a long-awaited national public inquiry.”
The article adds, “The Council of Canadians has had the privilege of collaborating with many First Nations groups on environmental and social justice issues. The local manifestation of this important bridge-building between First Nations and non-native people in our community was present throughout the months leading up to Walking With Our Sisters, and it continues.”
Chapter activist Linda Safford says, “The importance of our ongoing relationship as we work for climate and social justice cannot be underestimated. …Respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land is the first principle mentioned in the LEAP manifesto. …The enormous effort to bring the exhibit, to host so many welcoming events where First Nations traditions were shared, and to include over 300 volunteers has forever changed those who were fortunate enough to be present. We are very grateful.”
Safford presented the chapter award to Walking With Our Sisters K’ómoks organizers Anne Davis, Lee Everson and Ramona Johnson at an event in December.
The ‘Walking With Our Sisters’ commemorative art installation in Ottawa (Oct. 13, 2015)