Legacy of Hope Waniskahtan Exhibit opening soon in Thunder Bay

Photo from the exhibit

June 21, 2021 – Thunder Bay, Ont. 

Lakehead University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives is hosting the Legacy of Hope Waniskahtan Exhibit, designed to create greater awareness about the high rates of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community.

The goal of the exhibit, which will be at the Thunder Bay Intercity Shopping Centre from Wednesday, August 4 to Wednesday, Aug. 18, is to commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and hopefully prevent future violence.

The Legacy of Hope Foundation (LHF) is a national Indigenous-led, charitable organization working to promote healing and reconciliation in Canada for more than 19 years. It educates and raises awareness about the history and existing intergenerational impacts of the residential school system and subsequent ‘60s Scoop on Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) survivors, their descendants, and their communities.

Having hosted previous Legacy of Hope exhibits, staff at Lakehead University are proud to be entrusted with this year’s timely exhibit.

“As part of our commitment to reconciliation through education, we are honoured to collaborate with multiple partners to share this important exhibit with the community,” said Denise Baxter, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Initiatives at Lakehead University.

“It is our hope that all who engage with the exhibit will make a renewed commitment to stand up against violence and promote peace.”

Lakehead University partnered with the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) as community leaders in addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. ONWA continues to support programs by working on the frontlines of this ongoing national tragedy and will be inviting the Grandmother Earth Dress to be part of this important event.

The Grandmother Earth Dress is a traditional red jingle dress, created by ONWA, and inspired by Jaime Black’s REDress Project, which honours and acknowledges Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+.

The REDress Project also serves as a sacred item of healing for families as well as communities to commemorate their loved ones. It is meant for families to visualize their loved ones in beautiful traditional regalia. The 365 jingles on the dress represent a year-round call for justice and safety for Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people.

“The Legacy of Hope work and the Waniskahtan Exhibit keep alive the love, tears and memories of our lost mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, family, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ members. The Grandmother Earth Dress proudly speaks to us like jingles in a breeze, keeping hope alive,” said Cora McGuire-Cyrette,  Executive Director, ONWA.

Since the exhibit could not launch for National Indigenous Peoples Day, representatives from partner organizations created a video about the exhibit (produced by the Legacy of Hope Foundation).

Lakehead University staff – in partnership with the National Indigenous Peoples Day Committee – wanted to stage the exhibit to recognize, honour, and celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is today (June 21), although due to the pandemic restrictions, the launch had to be postponed.

The video includes introductory statements from Lakehead University, ONWA, a National Indigenous Peoples Day Committee representative, the Intercity Shopping Centre, and Sharon Johnson, Ontario Region Project Advisory Committee member to the Waniskahtan Exhibit.

Speakers will discuss and share a short tour of the exhibit, explaining why they came together and why this is important for community.

The official opening of the exhibit will now be held on Wednesday, August 4 to show respect for the more than 750 unmarked graves that were found at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan.

The travelling exhibit and accompanying activity guide will be added to the existing roster of 19 exhibitions that are loaned out across Canada every year, thereby ensuring continued education, and sustainability long after the project timeline is over.

The Legacy of Hope Foundation acknowledges the financial support of Women and Gender Equality Canada.

You can watch the video here.





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Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at (807) 343-8177 or mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.


Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2020 World Universities Rankings for the second consecutive year, and 99th among 1,115 universities from around the world in THE's 2021 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.