Walking With Our Sisters installation leaves Saskatoon

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November 25, 2014 - 3:31pm
Walking With Our Sisters in Saskatoon. Photo from Facebook.
Walking With Our Sisters in Saskatoon. Photo from Facebook.

Carefully a group of volunteers packed up the little beaded moccasin tops and cleaned the bright red carpet on the final day the Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) exhibition was in Saskatoon.

The international touring commemorative art installation which honours the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and children has called Wanuskewin Heritage Park home for the last three weeks.

"Having the vamps (moccasin tops) here in the installation, you almost feel like you got to know the sisters a little bit and feeling their presence all the time," WWOS Saskatoon co-lead Melody Wood said.

"Now that they are leaving I know that there is me and a few others who will definitely miss them and taking care of them. At the same time we also understand that other people need healing too."

Although a fluid exhibition with people coming and going each day, WWOS organizers estimated that over 4,000 people took part. Wood added there were over 250 volunteers as well.

"It really gives the committee a strong feeling of community. I think that speaks directly to the issue in the way that people care and that is really nice to see," she said.

"It has changed my life in the most positive way."

For Wood, being a volunteer was also a personal and emotional experience.  She was adopted by non-First Nations parents.

"They definitely knew what WWOS was but they didn't really have any connection to it. They came and experienced the exhibit and afterwards my dad said ... 'going into the exhibit changed my perspective. I feel so much more aware of the issue ... because there are so many lives attached to it,'" Woods explained.

"I think that's what I see the most is for people who actually go through it, it makes it a reality. It brings the issue close to home... That's the biggest change that I saw not only in my parents, but in the community at large.

That emotional response was echoed throughout the installations stay.

"There are a few families that are definitely directly tied to the issue. Beyond that there are lots of people tied in other ways," Woods said.

"Some of the mens' reactions were really emotional."

There will be a volunteer appreciation ceremony at the end of the de-installation.

The vamps next stop is in Akwesasne territory on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

kmalone@rawlco.com

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