The Prince George Public Library (PGPL) has opened the Waniskahtan exhibit, brought to you by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, shining a light on the pressing issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community (MMIWG2S).
The opening reception of this powerful exhibit will be held on Saturday, September 9 at 10:30 a.m. and will remain on display at the Bob Harkins Branch, downtown, for the remainder of September.
“As Indigenous Peoples we believe that women are sacred,” said Adam North Peigan, President of the Legacy of Hope Foundation. “They are life-givers, community builders and bearers of culture and sacred knowledge. They are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, aunties and friends. Since 1980, it’s estimated that over 5,000 Indigenous women and girls have disappeared or have been murdered in Canada. Five thousand is not just a number. It represents real women and girls who had hopes, dreams, and families that miss them dearly. Their absence has left a void in their communities, a void that is both spiritual and physical, a void that cries out for justice and recognition. The Legacy of Hope Foundation acknowledges this heart-wrenching reality and we’re committed to inciting change through education.
“The word waniskahtan comes from the Swampy Cree phrase for ‘wake up’ because we want everyone to wake up to acknowledge past tragedies and injustices and prevent future harms to our Indigenous women and girls. This ongoing tragedy has become deeply embedded in our country’s history, a haunting refrain that echoes in our hearts and minds.”
Paul Burry, PGPL Library Director, added: “In June of 2022 PGPL was honoured to host the Legacy of Hope’s Bi-Giwen: Coming Home – Truth Telling from the Sixties Scoop exhibit. This one-day exhibit was hugely impactful and we saw the effect it had on our community. Since that time, we have been working with the Legacy of Hope Foundation to bring the Waniskahtan exhibit to Prince George for a more extended time period. This is a powerful exhibit, and we wanted to ensure that as many people as possible in our community are able to experience it in person. The public library is an important resource for information and learning about our past. The Waniskahtan exhibit is an excellent opportunity to learn more about these tragic events.”
PGPL will be hosting a Waniskahtan exhibit opening reception on the morning of Saturday, September 9 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. With support of community advocates and agencies, this event is set to be a moving and informative experience, featuring truth-sharing sessions by impacted community members, such as Regional Chief Terry Teegee, Teddy Antoine, Brenda Wilson, and Sonya Rock, as well as captivating performances by the Khast’an Drummers, and Kym Gouchie and Method Dance Society that emphasize the importance of this cause.
Adults of all backgrounds are encouraged to attend the opening reception to come together to remember, honour, and advocate for the MMIWG2S.
The exhibit features powerful displays and narratives that invite visitors to reflect upon the systemic issues and historical factors that have contributed to this tragic crisis. Through storytelling and community voices, the Waniskahtan exhibit hopes to foster understanding, empathy, and a shared commitment to address this pressing issue. The exhibit seeks to raise awareness about the unfair and disproportionately high rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. It serves as a testament to the strength, resilience, and the need for change within Indigenous communities and the broader Canadian society.
In addition to the Waniskahtan exhibit, the library will also feature dozens of red dresses on display in the main staircase of the facility. The opening reception for the exhibit has been planned to complement and bring greater awareness to the annual local Red Dress event, which will be held in Prince George on Sunday, September 10.
The mission of the Prince George Public Library is to help people read, connect, and share. Hosting exhibits and events like this is an important part of our role in helping to educate our community about the history of the people of our region, and allows us provide opportunities for important discussions and dialogue to take place.