The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
A faceless doll project to remember and bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women and children was held outside the Core at Niagara College’s Welland campus.
“Each of the dolls that are made represent each one of the women and that’s just the women that were reported as missing (or murdered),” said Michelle Henry, a Niagara College student studying Community and Justice Services. The goal is to build 1,200 dolls, one for every missing and murdered indigenous woman, she said.
Many of the students who took part in the event wanted to show their support and expressed the importance of raising awareness to an issue that Canada continues to face.
Shimpei Adachi, an international student from Japan said, “I didn’t even know there were natives until right now. I thought in the 18th and 19th century that someone just came over and took Canada.”
Adachi said he knew that America had natives, but “this is something I didn’t know about Canada.”
Jamie Warren, Indigenous student counsellor at Niagara College said, “Now that we’re moving towards the spirit and process of reconciliation, events like these are just steps towards that.”
Warren explained the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came as a result of a group of residential school survivors who launched a lawsuit against the government and the churches because of their abuse at the residential schools, which later evolved into this commission with the purpose of documenting all that happened at these schools. It is now known that 150,000 indigenous children and youth attended these schools “and these are ones that are just documented,” she said.
“The issues like the ones we’re promoting today, they’re Canadian issues, they’re not just indigenous issues,” Warren continued. “They happened in Canada so it makes them Canadian issues. With that said we all have a responsibility, a purpose with reconciliation.”
The college’s five-year strategic plan states that the college will engage with Indigenous learners and communities and will be guided Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.
“I think moving forward, the entire Niagara College community has to think about what kind of role they play in the spirit of reconciliation,” she said.
The Indigenous Student Resource Centre will be open to all students who would like to make a doll to honour these women.