The significance of the red dresses seen in St. Catharines trees
Published February 14, 2022 at 4:39 pm
February 14 is far more than simply Valentine’s Day. In St. Catharines, it may mean you see red dresses hanging from trees that have nothing to do with flowers and candy.
One week ago, on February 7, a red dress was hung at St. Catharines City Hall to support and create awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA Peoples.
It was the beginning of a week-long campaign that unofficially ends today, which marks solidarity with the annual Women’s Memorial March held in Vancouver since 1991 that takes place on Feb 14.
The movement is called the REDress Project and according to St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, the colour red is key.
“The colour red is the only colour the spirits can see,” he posted. “Red is really a calling back of the spirits of these women and allowing them a chance to be among us and have their voices heard through their family members and community.”
Last week, well-known Indigenous advocate and St. Catharines resident Fallon Farinacci did the honours on behalf of the city and hung the red dress off the tree at City Hall.
Farinacci is originally from St. Eustache, Manitoba and the story of her life is not a happy tale. A Red River Metis, her parents were murdered when she was just eight years old. At that time, she and her brothers were held hostage for eight hours, waiting for the RCMP to help. Eleven years later, the family lost her older brother.
At the time of their deaths, her mother was 36, her older brother was 29, and her father was 37 years old. Soon last September, when she celebrated her 38th birthday, she officially became the oldest family in her family.
She began a GoFundMe with a target of $114,000 – $38,000 for each of the missing three family members – and while she didn’t quite make, she did clear $100,000 – an impressive total.
All the proceeds were split between her hometown’s St. Eustache local of the Manitoba Metis Federation and Niagara Region’s Abbey House Transitional Home for Indigenous women.
Said Sendzik after Farinacci hung the dress, “The City of St. Catharines stands with the Indigenous community and we will walk with you to enact change and speak against hate, racism and colonialism. There is much work to do. Together, we can make the change that is so desperately needed.”
insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies
Indigenous advocate and St. Catharines resident Fallon Farinacci hung the red dress off the tree at City Hall on February 7 to kick off the week of REDress Project.