Walking With Our Sisters, a Memorial Exhibition travelling across the country for a total of seven years, commemorates the lives of the hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal women in North America through art and ceremony.

Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

Across a red carpet laid on top of a bed of sage and sweet grass are placed 1800 pairs of moccasin tops. The moccasin tops, sometimes called ‘vamps’, ‘uppers’ or ‘tongues’, are arranged in paths leading around the lodge, guiding the visitor in a clockwise motion towards the back of the room, and then around the central altar.

Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

The ceremonial altar was built with a wooden frame and strengthened with rocks and dirt. Cedar boughs are laid on top to support sacred objects and offerings, including berries and feathers. Clan flags and prayer flags representing the Crow and Wolf Clan hang alongside the altar to honor the people of the Yukon, and the traditional land of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

Many elements of the memorial installation represent the Yukon and the Crow and Wolf Clans. Two large blankets hang at the back of the lodge, with designs of the Crow and Wolf by Keith Wolfe Smarch. Yukon Button Blankets made and gifted by communities across the Yukon are also included in the exhibition and are offered to visitors needing comfort during their visit.

Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

The moccasin tops in the exhibition are each an individual artistic expressions of love, support and remembrance. The unfinished moccasins represent the unfinished lives of these women. All together, the 1820+ pairs of moccasin tops represent the scope and mass of the issue, while individually they represent the significance of each life taken. The children’s vamps included in the exhibition are dedicated to children who never returned home from residential schools.

Vamps pictured made by Lena White. Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

The exhibition began when Métis artist Christi Belcourt made a call out over Facebook for donations of vamps, with a target of receiving 600. In under a year Belcourt had a collection of 1820+ made by a total of 1400+ artists.

Vamps pictured made by Misty Underwood. Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

Many of the artists prayed and dedicated their stitching to a mother, aunt, sisters, partner, friend, or woman who has gone missing or been murdered. Moccasin tops were donated by individuals from across the world who support the cause. An alphabetical listing of the artists can be found here.

Vamps pictured made by Becky Bebamikawe-Roy. Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

The Yukon Arts Centre is proud to partner with the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in bringing this powerful memorial exhibition to the Yukon. Viewing hours are Monday to Saturday from 10am – 5pm, Wednesdays from 10am – 8pm. To read up on the exhibition, please visit www.walkingwithoursisters.com, and to learn more about related upcoming events, please visit our Walking With Our Sisters-Whitehorse Facebook Page.