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Art project gets emotional reaction

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​​by Brad Aubin

Anyone who steps into Northern Secondary School can’t help but be stirred by a special art installation set up in the lobby by Grade-12 student Lucy Dokis. The Dokis First Nation resident worked tirelessly for months to make her independent study art project come to life, and it’s having the impact she was aiming for: raising awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).

The project is comprised of three elements: a series of paintings depicting a woman’s abduction, then a red dress hand-sewn by Dokis, and finally several photos of Northern students captioned with  ‘Missing’ or ‘Am I next?’

The first painting shows a woman in a red dress by a highway. Next, a car picks her up, and her dress dangles in the back of the vehicle. In the last panel, the dress is being flung out the window. The sombre triptych represents the fate that has befallen a shocking number of Indigenous women and girls – a fate that continues to impact Native communities and families every day. 

The MMIW has been recognized as a national crisis, with a 2014 report by the RCMP showing that 1,017 Aboriginal women were slain between 1980 and 2012, and another 164 were considered missing, with activists convinced the number is far larger due to a history of police underreporting homicides or failing to investigate suspicious deaths. Dokis’ artwork is meant to put a face on the problem, to show that these are not just statistics - that every victim is a real person with a family and community that are suffering.

“When I was younger, I didn’t have that much culture in my life,” says the student artist. “As I’ve grown, and coming to Northern, I’ve been gaining more and more. As an Indigenous person, I feel we’re all connected and when something happens to one of us, we all feel that. So this topic, it’s been in the back of my mind for a really long time. It’s something that really ticked me off, so I decided I was going to do something about it. I was going to bring awareness to it... and even if it’s a small group of people, like a high school, I still want to make an impact on everyone that’s viewing it. Not many people know about it and I wanted them to.”

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