A new initiative is underway to mark the beginning of the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada, and all it requires is a lot of heart.
Amanda Vittrekwa shows off the first heart she made for the Beaded Hearts campaign to honour indigenous women who are missing or who have been murdered. - Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
"I'm just collecting them to see how much support we have here in Inuvik," said Amanda Vittrekwa. "This will be nice, I think it's a good project."
The idea came from the NWT Native Women's Association in Yellowknife, where members wanted to do something to support victims' families going through the process of the inquiry, as well as to find something that could travel from location to location, possibly with the inquiry itself.
Anyone can submit a heart, and while the name specifies it should be beaded, Vittrekwa said organizers told her that as long as it is four inches in diameter, it could be embroidered or crocheted or anything else people want to do.
When they are all submitted, towards the end of September, they will be sewn together to create a piece of art that will hang in the association's offices when not present at meetings and other gatherings.
"It's a beautiful idea," said Alisa Praamsma, the association's executive director. "I think it's really going to take off, we've seen quite a bit of interest."
She referenced the Walking With Our Sisters uppers campaign that touched down for an exhibition in Yellowknife and has since continued to tour the country. She said they hope something similar could be done in the NWT.
If nowhere else, Inuvik is certainly a logical place to get this kind of project going.
Vittrekwa said she knows a lot of people who sew and bead and embroider, and that if she gets enough interest, she might be game to put together a few evening sessions where the participants could come together and work on their hearts as a group.
"It would be good to show our support for missing women," she said, adding that the gargantuan issue is one that touches so many families in the community. "It would also be a nice way to get out and just visit with each other."
Vittrekwa will be collecting hearts until the end of September, and mailing them to Yellowknife at the beginning of October. The idea is also to collect information related to dedicating the women hearts to a person.
"We're very pleased the inquiry is moving forward," said Praamsma. "We're hoping that all of the families will have an opportunity to participate."