Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer now on at the Museum & Art Gallery Red Deer

June 1 – 21, 2015

Red Deer, AB

Organizer: Lorna Johnson
Email: wwosreddeer@gmail.com

Visit our WWOS Red Deer Facebook Page to see WWOS in Red Deer.

A reflection of WWOS Red Deer from one of our visitors

Red Deer Gains Awareness “Walking With Our Sisters”
BY: Terrence Chapman


Walking with our Sisters was very moving for the people who were at  Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery on June 4, 2015 because the display is a commemorative art display for indigenous women and young native girls gone missing or murdered.Who knows how many native women and girls are missing or murdered? In the last thirty years it is estimated that at least 1,181 indigenous women are reported missing.

Before I enter the display of moccasin vamps, the hosts cleaned the wheels on my chair so my wheels did not track dirt into the display. The hosts explain the process of the rituals. They explained that elders guide the volunteers to oversee the commemorative art installation. The rituals include: smudging, tear catching, carrying tobacco in your hand to put good intentions into the tobacco and promote healing of emotional wounds, women can choose to wear skirts, gift giving and a feast at the end. The ceremonies honor the unfinished lives of these women and girls by following traditional protocol guided by elders.

I experienced a bunch of emotions. I felt sad to becoming angry and finally to being humble. I felt sad for families that were missing their mothers, daughters, aunties, grandmothers and sisters. I felt angry because these women and girls haven’t been found and the lack of respect for their lives. It makes me humble because I realize it is a big problem in our society.

Walking with our sisters collaborators called for 600 vamps and received 1,763 + as well as 108 children’s vamps. The vamps had incredible beauty and I could feel the compassion behind the vamps artwork. I believe the artists came together to show respect to all families and communities who have been affected by the loss of these women as well as the women themselves. Therefore bringing communities together and creating an opportunity for honoring these people whom are lost forever, on a large scale.

The art display, “Walking with Our Sisters”, brings awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women by traveling to 25 cities across Canada and the United States. The moccasin vamps are booked to be on display into 2019. For more information go to the website, www.walkingwithoursisters.ca.

This important project and ceremony for indigenous women has brought communities, non-indigenous and indigenous people, together to talk about social justice concerning this issue. I believe that this memorial is increasing awareness and promoting healing for nations of people. I am a quarter aboriginal and have cerebral palsy, as a minority, I can appreciate the artistic and cultural awareness of this emotional experience. I believe this collaborative art display can help promote healing and move society forward from the injustice and the lack of concern for certain people. The experience is enlightening and hopeful for communities as a whole.

Thanks Terrence for sharing your words!


RED DEER EXPRESS, January 13, 2016: Feathered Women aim to make a difference

“Through January the Red Deer Express is publishing a series involving several community groups and how the inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women affects them moving forward. Interviews with local Elders, community supports and City staff will be included to also help examine what the inquiry means for Red Deer as a whole. Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) is a powerful installation that opened many people in Red Deer’s eyes to the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. From WWOS came a group known now as Red Feather Women, a social justice action group. The Red Feather Women describe themselves in many ways, but a theme prevails: the women are a group who stand together to support each other and the women in the community – especially Aboriginal women – as they move forward to speak out against injustice and vulnerabilities.”

Read full article by Kalisha Mendonsa here.

CTV ALBERTA: Red Deer Elder interviewed by CTV Alberta for WWOS

From our Facebook Page:

“Here is our lead elder’s interview from CTV Alberta Primetime that aired last Friday. So proud of you, Corky and everyone that has worked fiercely and tirelessly to support the bundle!”

Listen to the interview here.


Preparing the nest for half of the wwos tobacco ties. Brandon in the ladder and Lynn bossing from the ground.

Yesterday at Safe Harbour Society sweatlodge. Lots of people, made for a lodge of the ‘ol “sardine” style.

The ties were included, offered, sang to and prayed with. After the women picked out the tree, the tree was honored as well with tobacco and prayer.

150928_red-deer_tobacco-ties-ceremony_02Some of the elders and men singing for the women and the ties after the lodge.


It was a beautiful day to sit in the lodge. Afterwards, many of the women, feeling giddy and warm in the sun, stayed behind to help check over the 1800+ double “ties” many women, men and children in our community made for the missing and murdered women of the Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer ceremony. They stretch all the way up the lane way and beyond… Half will be placed in a “nest” in one of the trees near the lodge after the sweat (1pm) this Sunday. On Oct 17th we will take The remaining half near the land south of Edmonton where some of the women these ties represent have been found and i am in hopes many women, men and children will join us in doing so. We will leave fort normandeau after the women’s sweat that morning of the 17th and then carpool/convoy, vehicle flashers going, red and white ribbons on our aerials (sp?) Flying, to the area and once more circle up, smudge together, pray together and sing loud together. We are hoping Project KARE out of Edmonton and some of the families directly affected will be joining us, as well as members of EPS and RCMP.

Stay tuned for further details.

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The vamps are on their way to the next location – Comox Valley. As they travel from Red Deer here is a travel log from our Facebook Page.

Stopped at the summit of Rogers Pass to give the sisters some fresh mountain air and a smudge and a prayer.
Love from Corky and Lynn



Here are a few photos from our closing day community conversation. I can’t say it’s our last, because it is not. we’ve had over 2000 people come walk with our sisters in Red Deer over the last 21 days. 2000 opportunities to continue the conversation. it’s not the end. we’ve only begun.

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Some reflections from our Facebook Page:

“It’s hard to imagine that Sunday, June 21st is our final day with the sisters, after months of preparation for their arrival. Witnessing the strength and beauty of our women that came together, the men that held us up, the hard stories that came with tears, the friendships born out of the hardest work I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. I’m sad, and grateful, all at the same time. I need to say Thank you, to Red Deer, to Central Alberta, for the resounding, almost unfathomable support we’ve received. We hope that you will join us, and thank the sisters for the work they have done in bringing our community together, in a good way.”


A Message from Corky

Never have I been so proud of our group of women as I was this Saturday. As we’ve all come to learn, each day we spend with the vamps can have a different “feel.”

Today it felt heavier than usual and the vamps were working hard. The heaviness continued long after the last visitor and worker left this evening. Many visitors came out of the lodge highly emotional, some distraught today. It was a very busy day that went late and it was beautiful to see everyone going above and beyond their “job description” as debriefers, keepers, volunteers, MAG staff. We managed accommodating a high volume of visitors to the lodge and for the beautiful womens song circle and a highly emotionally charged energy that surrounded us today. We knew this was the kind of work we’d be doing, that we could be creating a place of healing. Well we’ve learned we have and today we worked together and took good care of the ones who were overcome with grief. At one point there was someone being smudged and tended to in the kitchen!

We had just begun the process of letting the bundle rest for the night, when a last visitor came in. Of course we made a place for her. She had been communicating with a MAG staff member who invited her to come. She came to support a friend who’s sister has gone on violently, she also brought us a poster for her missing brother that is now being treated as a homicide. She was overcome with grief and as others have said before her, felt safe enough to “let go” emotionally. What I was struck by as I sat with her as she wept and talked, was the fact that she still maintained hope.
Then we must too.

You all did good work today…Creators work.
Be proud of yourselves- because I sure am.
Love from corky


Pictured above are 2 amazingly beautiful paintings that gave been created by 2 amazingly talented local artists (Stephen Birch on left and Jesse Gouchey on right) hanging in the “tea” room (Discovery Room) at the museum.



For those unable to come to the memorial, we did our best to honour the missing and murdered and to give a space for the grandmothers visions. As you enter the lodge, the grandmothers saw a hard, darker walk, represented by the serpentine path, the shadows, the darker landscape represented on the wall. Water is crossed, a return to tradition and medicines, represented by the lodge, the medicines in the lodge and the 3600 tobacco ties (one red for prayers for our sisters, one white for creator). Water represented again, and the path around the corner from the healing becomes brighter, more hopeful. This has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, thankful for the opportunities, the strength, the tears and the love.



Pictures from our June 1st Opening. More on our Facebook Page.

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From our Facebook Page:

For those unable to come to the memorial, we did our best to honour the missing and murdered and to give a space for the grandmothers visions.

As you enter the lodge, the grandmothers saw a hard, darker walk, represented by the serpentine path, the shadows, the darker landscape represented on the wall.

Water is crossed, a return to tradition and medicines, represented by the lodge, the medicines in the lodge and the 3600 tobacco ties (one red for prayers for our sisters, one white for creator). Water represented again, and the path around the corner from the healing becomes brighter, more hopeful. This has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, thankful for the opportunities, the strength, the tears and the love.


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Here are some images taken during the WWOS Red Deer install. View more on our Facebook Page.

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Thank you to the Men’s committee for putting up the teepee at the museum! Here are some of the images from our Facebook Page.

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From our Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Facebook Page:

“Great turn out for skirt making! Busy ladies”

150523_red-deer_skirt-making-workshop_02150523_red-deer_skirt-making-workshop_04WWOS Red Deer poster for Feast Skirt Making Workshop


Day two of our Honouring Our Sisters storytelling event brought 113 students from Eastview and Central Middle Schools. There was a lot of enthusiasm and creativity floating around the studio while careful consideration and engagement in the gallery. Thank you to Keepers Helper Lana, grandmother Lynn and storyteller Mari Jo.


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From our Facebook Page:

A HUGE success, and we’ve only just begun! an evening that started with a men’s Stew and Bannock Cookoff, storytelling, a silent auction AND live painting by Artworks by Jesse Gouchey and Stephen Birch. overwhelming support! over 100 in the space where the vamps will be honoured in a few weeks.



Poster for Red Deer Stew & Bannock Cook-off, Story telling, and Silent Auction on May 9



Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Mens Committee were the brightest Stars of the Storytelling event tonight. 10 handsome men in 10 frilly aprons, 10 savoury stews, and a few questionable bannocks and frybreads fed close to a 100 people tonight! So proud of them and all that came to support tonight.

Loved from corky




From our Facebook Page: 

Miranda and Alex arrived with the bundle on May 2 from Whitehorse. With great care, songs and prayers, we brought the bolts of fabric, medicines, eagle staffs and vamps into our grandmother’s house, where they will remain until installation.

I’m at a loss for words, other than to say I am thankful for the safety of the bundle, the spirits that guide it from place to place, the loving hands that make heavy work light, and the time with which to share it all.

Here are a few more photos of the bundle transfer. thanks to all that helped it get here & that entrusted us with its care. surrounded by love, we will ensure our sisters are safe and well.

View more images on our WWOS Red Deer Facebook Page.


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Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer held our 7th Community Conversation and had a great turnout!

From our Facebook Page:

“It’s hard to believe that at our first Community Conversation we asked the question, should we, can we, in Central Alberta, rally our community and get the support we need to bring Walking With Our Sisters here?

I am humbled, thankful, overwhelmed and encouraged all at the same time as I have a few moments to collect myself in the quiet after our seventh Community Conversation. New faces, each time, stronger voices, beautiful teachings all while gaining what feels like an electric momentum. Thanks to all that joined, that travelled, for the gifts of sacred medicines. Thanks for enduring uncomfortable chairs, and still managing to find comfort in each other and strength to push forward.”

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Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Tobacco Tie-In

From our Facebook Book Page:

“We out did ourselves today. Many of Those involved with Red Deer WWOS have asked and have made a commitment to make a little set of prayer ties for each set of moccasin vamps that are making their way to Red Deer. These ties will then travel on with the bundle for the rest of their journey if it’s okay with Christi, who’s vision it was that started all this amazing and important work across Canada smile emoticon. The ties consist of 1-4inch piece of red cloth that represents the missing/murdered, and 1-4 inch piece of white cloth that represents their creator or however they name their higher power. They are then bound tightly to each other and tied to a length of red ribbon. Each cloth contains a wee pinch of tobacco that represents the honesty and offering of our prayers. Today we made 746 double ties- (1492). After learning about tobacco ties, their meaning, the protocol and smudging up, approx 30 human beings set to work. People helped each other, the big ones helped the little ones, the hard working men with calloused fingers tied their ribbons ably smile emoticon. I was mainly the runner of cloth, ribbon, tobacco and scissors and and snuck timbits to the kids (including Andreas son :D)

Feeling good about this community we call Red Deer”
Love from corky.

Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Tobacco Tie-In Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Tobacco Tie-In Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Tobacco Tie-In
Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Tobacco Tie-In


From our Facebook Page:

“Super productive Walking With Our Sisters Organizing Committee meeting tonight. 14 of us circled around the table, smudged up and were all organize-y. Pammy T,with her baby boy snoozing in her arms, stepped up for food coordinator and other duties- i love her so much. At one point- it again kind of hit us just what we are doing, for who and why.

And it became very quiet…

Thank you to all the committee members that represented. Thank you Armstrong family for donation of lint rollers etc. Thank you Lana for bringing back all the fragrant fresh cedar from the west coast.

Keep being strong, wise and passionate.”
Love from corky


group of people sitting in a circle on seats with blanket in front of them covered with offerings

From our Facebook Page:

“Another good circle today at Red Deer’s 6th Community Conversation. the healing, the strength, the love from gathering as we prepare for the bundle’s arrival grows each time we come together. it’s been an incredible weekend, thanks to all that helped to make it so.”

Walking With Our Sisters Red Deer Community Conversation 6



From our WWOS Red Deer Facebook Page:

Incredible night, incredible performances, INCREDIBLE community support!

Thank you so much for coming out, and helping us raise money to bring Walking With Our Sisters here.

Thanks to The Hub on Ross for helping to put on a spectacular evening, to the The Global Enrichment Foundation and babycakes cupcakery for keeping everyone’s energy high.

So blessed.



3 middle aged woman hugging each other and smiling for camera

From our WWOS Red Deer Facebook Page:

We were fortunate enough to have Tanya Kappo here to offer advice and experiences to our grandmothers and keepers and to help lead us in a larger discussion around Indigenous Women’s Rights. Our biggest circle to date, so much love and encouragement, passion and drive that day, no where to go but up! Thanks to all that were able to attend, next Community Conversation is set for March 8th!

Group of mostly women sitting on chairs in a circle in an meeting room



4 middle aged woman grouped close together and smiling

From our WWOS Red Deer Facebook Page:

We got the chance to sit down with Mayor Veer and talk about the memorial today, and seize the chance we did! We are thrilled to have another strong woman’s voice to add to the strength and courage of many that gather around the bundle. Good day, much to do, so fortunate to have support and opportunity to do it.