Altar for the Day of the Dead: To Honour the Lives of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada
This altar (ofrenda) intends to commemorate the lives of hundreds of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Our hope is to promote awareness on this issue, creating a space for dialogue and bringing the community of McGill together.
The Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is a festive and sacred time in Mexico and other Latin American countries. This day, the souls of the dead are welcomed back, joined with the living and becoming a celebration of life. Significant objects are placed as gifts to the visiting souls in ofrendas: the altars for the children are set on the eve of October 31st with sweets, fruits and white flowers, while the eve of November 1st is the time to honor the adults with cempasúchil (marigold flower), spicy food, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes. Although many elements of Catholicism were incorporated into the ofrenda after the Spanish conquest, it is considered mostly an Indigenous tradition.
As a group women artists (conformed by both Canadian and Mexican women, as well as by Indigenous descent women from both Latin and North America), we want to offer this ofrenda to the hundreds of Indigenous women and girls that have been murdered in Canada, and the rest of the continent, over the past decades. We are also considering the many missing women in this altar, which purpose is remembrance: we acknowledge that not being physically present isn’t the same as being gone.
With this ofrenda installed at the Faculty of Education, we want to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka people where we stand today, celebrating our ancestors and sharing diverse Indigenous culture with the community of McGill (the altar will have elements from Indigenous communities from both Mexico and Canada). Moreover, we want to honour the lives of all the Indigenous women and girls that have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada as a way to bring awareness to the widespread violence against Indigenous women and girls, and gender-based violence in general.
Note: We would like to invite the community of Education to collaborate by bringing food or flowers for the altar. They can also come to the Art Hive on Wednesday, November 2nd (from 10-16 hr.), where we will be making “punched” paper, Cempasuchil flowers, and many more traditional elements for the ofrenda. At the end of the day the food will be shared with the participants.
Project led by Maria Ezcurra (Art Mediator), in collaboration with Lori Beavis (Artist-in-Residence) and a collective of Mexican women artists: Nuria Carton de Grammont, Carmen Giménez-Cacho, Nancy Guevara, Flavia Hevia, Daniela Ortiz and Amanda Ruiz. Poster design by Pedro Orozco.
November 1st and 2nd, Education Building lobby, 3700 McTavish