A very striking model paraded the runway with a vibrant red hand painted on her mouth, which has become the symbol of the MMIW movement. The red handprint on the mouth represents all the missing sisters whose voices are not heard and the silence of the media and elected officials regarding the ongoing epidemic. As the model approached the edge of the stage, she held up her fan in the air as if to say, “No more stolen sisters.” (Look at the picture)

Another memorable outfit was worn by Mackenzie Smith (Tuscarora Nation, Turtle Clan). Her mother, Kehala Smith, created a skirt in honor of the missing and murdered Indigenous women. Sister Ariana Smith also modeled a skirt made by her mother in honor of MMIW.

It should not be underestimated here that these parade designs are incredible works of art. Even though the show touched on a dark and gloomy subject, the strength of the models, love and care that went into creating their outfits was palpable to the large audience in attendance. Many designs have been created by family members or passed down from generation to generation. They featured intricate pearl patterns, and many skirts and dresses were adorned with delicate ribbons.

The show ended with Tina Mt Pleasant citing a number of ways audiences could promote the MMIW movement. She has notably used social media with the #MMIW tag and donated to organizations seeking justice for these people and their loved ones. More information on the crisis and resources can be found at “natifhope.org“”uihi.org” and “indianlaw.orgFor the Indian Law Resource Center.

Please consider learning more about MMIW and what you can do to help it. Thanks to Tina Mt Pleasant and the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center for the hard work that went into creating this festival and show and for sharing this message. The “Native Voices” art exhibition runs until November 28.