On Friday, the opening ceremony for the annual Bridge: Honouring the Lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit People installation took place on the bridge between Environment 3 and United College.
The Bridge installation was started in 2015 by Sorouja Moll in order to “create a space for all [u]niversity community members to learn about the crisis.” The installation urges communities to “reflect upon their responsibilities” and “honour and remember” the names of those taken. The installation was initially presented in Montreal as The Writing Names Project, intended to serve as a counter-memorial to challenge the silence surrounding the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people in Canada.
The ceremony began with a fire at the Ceremonial Fire Grounds. Attendees were invited to take part in a smudge, which involved bringing the smoke to their eyes to see good things, their ears to hear good things, their mouth to say good things, and their heart to feel good things. Tobacco was passed around before being placed in the fire. Indigenous speakers shared statistics, highlighting that the event “is more important than ever.”
Pieces of red fabric were then tied to the bridge while the names of those missing and murdered were read aloud by volunteers. 1,579 names were read, 40 of whom were Jane Does, a representation of the “far too many Jane Does” present in this crisis.
The opening ceremony was followed by a soup lunch hosted by the Shatitsirótha’ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre and supported by the department of communication arts.