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Faceless Doll Project: Commemorating Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls

Corine Bannon in conversation with ETFO Voice

What is the Faceless Doll Project and how did you come across it?

In 2010, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) released a report called  What Their Stories Tell Us.  The report resulted from five years of research by the Sisters in Spirit Initiative. It revealed as many as 582 known cases of Aboriginal women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada. NWAC wanted to create a visual representation of these women and girls so they would not be forgotten. The Faceless Doll Project came out of research conducted by the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA).

I learned about the Faceless Doll Project when I stopped in at Lakehead University’s Aboriginal Awareness Centre to talk with Helen Pelletier. We got into a conversation about the number of known and unsolved cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across Canada. When Helen mentioned the known number was as high as 582, I quickly volunteered to help her in her quest to make faceless dolls to commemorate all of the women and girls.

Why are the dolls faceless?

The Aboriginal women and girls who are missing or have been murdered are victims of crime, and therefore faceless. They are also faceless because they are devalued by society.The dolls are a visual representation of the girls and women who need to be remembered and they offer a way to find closure for their grieving families. In the known cases of missing and murdered women and girls, they are people’s sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and friends. Their unsolved cases leave a void in their families’ lives. These women and girls have also been forgotten by society. When I posed the question to a group of students, “Does anyone know why the dolls are faceless?” one grade 8 student said, “Society has stopped looking for them.”

Why did you and your colleagues get involved with this project?

For me, this project sheds light on the low value society places on our Aboriginal peoples in Canada, especially our women and girls. I got involved with the project because of the sheer number of Aboriginal women and girls who have been affected by violence. When Helen introduced me to the project, I felt compelled to help her. It was a way to honour the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and their families.

My original intent was to have just my Native as a Second Language classes at École Gron Morgan and Algonquin Public School participate in the Faceless Doll Project. I then asked other colleagues if they would like to participate, and most classes quickly jumped on board. Before long, most of the teachers from each school who

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