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

Surrey RCMP detachment. (Contributed file photo)
Surrey RCMP investigating 2 ‘suspicious’ house fires in Newton

Incident happened at 5:11 a.m., Sunday morning

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read