https://www.comoxvalleyartgallery.com

Stolen Sisters | Sculptural + Video Installations 

    Schedule

  • Exhibition January 27 - May 25 2024

CVAG Hub | Reception


STOLEN SISTERS – SCULPTURAL + VIDEO INSTALLATIONS

Ongoing Project + Installation:

This project initiated by artist Gwen Monnet will continue to expand as she collaborates with others.

The earlier presentation of this project and it’s presentation during the convergent program Upholding One Another can be read about at these links:

Installation Components:

Stolen Sister | The Métis — Gwen Monnet

Stolen Sister | The Kwakwaka’wakw — Elder, Dr. Evelyn Voyageur + Gwen Monnet

Stolen Sisters — cedar house panels | gifted to the Comox Valley Art Gallery by SD 71 Indigenous Education

Stolen Sisters — single channel video | 6:20 min. | singers: Latisha Wadhams Pelkey, Isaiah Wadhams, Tommy Brown + Shawn Decaire | audio recording: Zac Whyte concept + editing: Carla Voyageur | with gratitude to Lil’ Red Dress Project: Carla Voyageur + Jeannine Lindsay

Cultural Cedar Teaching with Elder, Dr. Evelyn Voyageur — single channel video | 21:15 min. | documentation + editing: Zac Whyte


STOLEN SISTER | THE MÉTIS — Gwen Monnet

My interest in the Red Dresses came about with the visit of Walking with Our Sisters in our community in 2015. It was an extremely powerful exhibit featuring 1,810 moccasin vamps made by 1,400 people honoring the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls across Canada. Ramona Johnson and the Everson family were among those who volunteered countless hours to bring this event to the K’ómoks First Nation.

A button blanket was created as the Comox Valleys’ contribution to the travelling exhibit and the public was invited to visit the IHOS and sew a button around the perimeter of the blanket. Families of victims were invited to place a button in the interior of the blanket. It was here that I placed my sister’s unfinished beadwork that had sat in her kit for over 30 years; she was killed at the age of 16.

It was very meaningful to me that Karen had found a place among her stolen sisters and was, in a way, part of the world again.

The following year, a call to action was made by the Red Dress Project and as a response I fabricated nine red dresses for the high schools in our district. These dresses were adorned with sashes to represent the Métis, abalone for the First Nations and a seal ‘fur’ belt for the Inuit women and girls.

My wish was to take that idea a step further and create three-dimensional hollow sculptures to illustrate the invisibility of our missing sisters. The dresses are to be of various styles and sizes for impact and personalized to represent different age groups and Indigenous nations. They are to be a part of an ongoing project to create awareness for our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls+.

As I am Métis, the child’s dress is adorned with a sash and floral pattern to honour the women and girls of my culture. This mixed-media sculpture was originally created for Indigenous Education SD 71.


STOLEN SISTER | THE KWAKWAKA’WAKW — Gwen Monnet + Elder, Dr. Evelyn Voyageur

I was very honoured when Dr. Evelyn Voyageur agreed to work with me on the woman’s dress. Cedar weaving is a long-standing tradition in her family and the healing element of this sacred medicine is a gift for the families of the stolen women of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation.

My intention for this sculpture was to bring more attention to the ongoing issue of our Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls+. I felt that the public recognized the symbolism of the red dress but perhaps it needed to be more personal. Our missing sisters needed to be called by name.

It should not be so easy to disappear; in a society where these girls were/are made to feel invisible, I wanted them to be seen.

Evelyns’ grand-daughter, Carla Voyageur, is co-founder (with Jeannine Walker) of the Lil’ Red Dress Project. Their important work has enabled the funding for billboards for local missing Indigenous women and girls. It was through them that families of victims were approached, and names were added to the interior of the dress. I hope that it brings comfort to these families to know that their loved ones are not alone.

It is important to note that the individuals pictured [in the dress on the screen] are a small representation of the thousands of Indigenous Women and Girls+ whose families are still searching, hoping, praying, and grieving.

Julia Bruce

Annie Cedar

Marion Dawson

Joanne Green

Janet Henry

Lavina Henry

Ainjil Hunt

Emma Isaac

Morenda Isaac

Lorraine Jacobson

Irene James

Elizabeth Lagis

Kayla Lalonde

Angeline Pete

Caroline Rufus

Cindy Scow

Carsyn Seaweed

Michelle Shaw

Therena Silva

Linda Speck

Adriane Wadhams

Patricia Wadhams

Rosalind Wadhams

Selena Wallace

Kristina Ward

Angie Williams


GWEN MONNET | BIOGRAPHY

I was born in Comox to a large family of Métis heritage. My ancestors on my Father’s side are from Fort Chipewyan and Scotland, and from Wales on my Mother’s side.

I have managed to live my life doing what I love the most, most of the time. This usually involves a happy mix of art, community, travel and children.

Art has always been an integral part of my life. Historically, the women in my family were known for their beautiful beading and sewing skills, I suppose that became part of my identity early on. I do not have much in the way of formal training. I was fortunate to have encouraging art teachers along the way which included Brian Scott and Don Yeomans.

I love simple lines and bold colours, most of my past works include playful cartoon animals. I have also collaborated on large works in a few of our local schools. More recently, I have been using and building on the floral designs of my grandmother and have been exploring different mediums such as beadwork, soap stone carving, fabric sculpture and painting on drums.


K̓ILGAłIXA‘LAKW, ELDER, DR. EVELYN VOYAGEUR | BIOGRAPHY

Despite going to St. Michael’s Residential School at age ten, Dr. Evelyn Voyageur is a fluent speaker of Kwawala and an active matriarch of the Kwakwaka’wakw culture and traditions. She has dedicated her life to improving the health of Indigenous peoples through her more than five decades in the nursing profession.

As a registered nurse with a PhD in psychology, Dr. Voyageur has worked extensively in community and hospital-based health care across Alberta and British Columbia. She has worked with the Indian Residential School Society, where her work focused on supporting former students healing from the trauma of residential schools. She is also an educator who has taught and developed nursing curricula at the University of Victoria and North Island College.

Dr. Voyageur has received many awards for her contributions to Aboriginal nursing, including a 2018 Indspire Award for Health. This award acknowledged her promotion of Indigenous health in a number of capacities, most recently as BC representative for the Aboriginal Nurses Association and member of the board of St. Joseph’s General Hospital in BC. Dr. Voyageur was also recognized in 2017 in two ways by the College of Registered Nurses of BC when she received the LifeTime Achievement award and was one of 150 nurses across Canada chosen for excellence in nursing. Also of note, she was one of the first recipients of the Award of Excellence in Nursing from Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Branch.

Dr. Voyageur has been active in the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (formerly Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada) since 1980, serving as the BC representative, vice-president, and president (2010 to 2012). She also founded the Native and Inuit Nurses Association of BC (NINA) in the early 1980s to help educate those who work with First Nations communities.

Evelyn has been an integral part of creating the Ni’noxsola, Elders in Residence program in Comox Valley schools. She sits on the Ni’noxsola advisory and regularly instructs the Kwawala language and cedar bark weaving with students at Vanier Senior Secondary.

Acknowledgements

The Comox Valley Art Gallery is grateful to operate on the Unceded Traditional Territory of the K’ómoks First Nations.

CVAG is honored to collaborate with artists, writers, guest curators, community partners + volunteers. We are grateful for the support of our members + donors.

FUNDERS: City of Courtenay, Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, Government of Canada, Province of BC, The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, Comox Valley Regional District, Town of Comox | LOCAL SUPPORT: School District 71 Printshop, Sherwin Williams, Hitec Screen Printing, Shine-Eze Ltd., BoomBright Media, Helen’s Closet Patterns | COMMUNITY COLLABORATORS: Comox Valley Transition Society, Indigenous Women’s Sharing Society, SD 71 Indigenous Education, Lil’ Red Dress Project, MIKI’SIW Métis Association

ARTIST ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Gwen Monnet – My gratitude to the Miki’siw Metis Association for the donation of the child’s sash.
The name on the outside of the dress, K̓i’stła̱ns t̓ła̱liwe’a̱nu’tł, means “we will not forget (them)” and was taken with permission from lilreddressproject.ca.