The Red Dress Project is coming to Gus Wetter School on May 5th

‘I’d like to make it an annual thing and encourage other rural schools to participate as well’

By Sarah Baker

For the Advance

On May 5th Gus Wetter School will be having a Red Dress Day to raise awareness for the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Jaymi Rausch, the Grade 2 teacher at the school, is organizing the event for the high school students.

“I was inspired to create the project in memory of a young lady named Helen Betty Osborne, who was brutally raped and murdered by four men in the town of The Pas, Manitoba in 1971,” said Rausch.

Helen’s story has always stuck with Rausch.

“Hearing it from my parents with details from the townspeople inspired a series of poetry I’ve written, but it’s so much bigger than that. What about the thousands of women who haven’t gotten justice? What about their families? Why are these numbers so disproportionate to the rest of the population, and what can we do to help?”

For the school the project has been in the making for a couple years and was delayed last May due to COVID-19, she said.

People in the community have been supportive of the project, said Rausch.

“Some ladies from the community donated their red dresses to display and over the last month I’ve been writing up the information for the display and putting everything up with help from Ashley Duncan and Laura Kelly.”

The project will bring awareness to how Indigenous women and girls represent 16 per cent of all female homicides in Canada, while constituting only four per cent of the female population.

“I think it’s important for people to realize there is a problem before we can move towards finding solutions.”

Students will learn about the creation of the project by artist Jamie Black, and why May 5th is a national day to wear red.

“I don’t think many realize the genocide that it taking place and it’s part of our responsibility as educators to inform students on what’s happening in our backyard.”

The school administration has been extremely supportive of the project, too.

“I’d like to make it an annual thing and encourage other rural schools to participate as well.”

To learn more about the project at the school people can follow @raidertheatre on Facebook or @raider_theatre on Instagram.

The school is also encouraging the community to wear red on May 5th and tag the school in their social media posts as well as the hashtag MMIWG.

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