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Prince George Public Library hosting 'wake up' exhibit

The exhibit raises awareness about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls
Red Dresses on display at the PGPL.

The Waniskahtan exhibit, which shines a light on the pressing issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community (MMIWG2S), is coming to the Prince George Public Library.

The opening reception of this exhibit will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 10:30 a.m. and will remain on display at the Bob Harkins Branch, downtown, for the remainder of September.

“As Indigenous Peoples we believe that women are sacred. They are life-givers, community builders and bearers of culture and sacred knowledge. They are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, aunties and friends,” said Adam North Peigan, President of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, who is bringing the exhibit to Prince George.

He added that since 1980, it’s estimated that over 5,000 Indigenous women and girls have disappeared or have been murdered in Canada.

“5,000 is not just a number. It represents real women and girls who had hopes, dreams, and families that miss them dearly. Their absence has left a void in their communities, a void that is both spiritual and physical, a void that cries out for justice and recognition,” said Peigan.

“The Legacy of Hope Foundation acknowledges this heart-wrenching reality and we’re committed to inciting change through education. The word “Waniskahtan” comes from the Swampy Cree phrase for “wake up” because we want everyone to “wake up” to acknowledge past tragedies and injustices and prevent future harms to our Indigenous women and girls. This ongoing tragedy has become deeply embedded in our country’s history, a haunting refrain that echoes in our hearts and minds.”

The opening reception will feature truth-sharing sessions by impacted community members, such as Regional Chief Terry Teegee, Teddy Antoine, Brenda Wilson, and Sonya Rock, as well as captivating performances by the Khast'an Drummers, and Kym Gouchie and Method Dance Society that emphasize the importance of this cause.

“We have been working with the Legacy of Hope Foundation to bring the Waniskahtan exhibit to Prince George for a more extended time period. This is a powerful exhibit, and we wanted to ensure that as many people as possible in our community are able to experience it in person,” said Paul Burry, PGPL library director.

The exhibit features displays and narratives that invite visitors to reflect upon the systemic issues and historical factors that have contributed to this tragic crisis. Through storytelling and community voices, the Waniskahtan exhibit hopes to foster understanding, empathy, and a shared commitment to address this pressing issue.

In addition to the Waniskahtan exhibit, the library will also feature dozens of red dresses on display in the main staircase of the facility to complement and bring greater awareness to the annual local Red Dress event, which will be held in Prince George on Sunday, Sept. 10.