Normagene Thompson was hurt and disappointed when the red dresses she hung in memory of all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were torn down twice. (Courtesy of Normagene Thompson)

Normagene Thompson was hurt and disappointed when the red dresses she hung in memory of all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were torn down twice. (Courtesy of Normagene Thompson)

B.C. woman won’t let vandals who tore down her red dresses win

Red dresses, symbolizing missing and murdered Indigenous women, torn down across B.C.

Every year Esquimalt resident Normagene Thompson joins hundreds of Indigenous people across North America in hanging red dresses.

They’re a symbol that has become well known in recent years, used to call attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls crisis.

This year though, Thompson was devastated to have vandals tear down her display not once, but twice. The first time, she hung three dresses in a small greenspace at the end of her townhouse strata. To make sure they withstood the elements, Thompson secured the dresses and hangers together with zip ties and then secured a sign, reading “No More Stolen Sisters #MMIW” to the hangers and the hangers to tree branches.

(Courtesy of Normagene Thompson)

READ ALSO: Vogue features B.C. red dresses in honour of missing, murdered Indigenous women

Four days later, the zip ties had been snipped, the dresses were gone and the sign lay torn on the ground. Thompson said she was hurt and disappointed, but refused to let the vandals win. She posted to social media to see if anyone would donate other red dresses and received two. Those she hung up on April 19. Two days later they too were gone.

The second time, Thompson contacted police and said she’s hopeful they’ll be able to secure surveillance footage from a nearby McDonald’s to reveal who the vandal is.

On the off chance the person who took the dresses was simply in need of clothes, Thompson is planning on putting out some freshly laundered items for them to take instead. But, the way the dresses were secured with zip ties, she said the person would have had to damage the dresses to take them. So, Thompson thinks it’s more likely an act of vandalism.

There have been several incidents across B.C. in recent weeks of red dresses being torn down, including along the highway near Ladysmith and outside Nelson city hall. The acts of hate are awful, Thompson said, but she believes even when the dresses are torn down they are serving their purpose.

READ ALSO: Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

“The dresses are meant to create dialogue and raise awareness,” she said. “Whoever took them may have stolen the dresses, but they didn’t steal their meaning. They are working and they are making a difference.” A post Thompson made to an Esquimalt community group has more than 300 reactions and 100 comments.

Anyone interested in donating a red dress to Thompson can reach her at normagene10@gmail.com.

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Rally for MMIWG in Victoria creates space for conversation


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

EsquimaltIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Creston Town Hall. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Ellen Tzakis resigns from Creston Town Council

Council is preparing to hold a by-election later this year

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

School District 8 employees Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall officially began their retirement with a COVID-friendly send-off outside of Prince Charles Secondary School. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
School District 8 employees Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall officially began their retirement with a COVID-friendly send-off outside of Prince Charles Secondary School. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Three women retire from School District 8 with COVID-friendly celebration

Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall shared 87 years of service collectively

The Salmo Public Library’s director Taylor Caron with her award: “It caught me totally off guard. I burst into tears.” Photo: Submitted
Salmo Public Library director wins provincial award

Taylor Caron has been recognized by her peers for innovation and advocacy

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

Most Read