A video posted to social media shows two men removing the red dresses that symbolize missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from trees alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay.
The two men can be seen using a large branch to remove the dresses before tossing them in the forest.
More than 100 dresses were hung from Victoria to Port Hardy in January 2021 and have remained in place since then. The project was inspired by the work of Metis artist Jaime Black. In 2010, Black put up installations of red dresses in Manitoba to represent Indigenous women and girls lost to violent crimes.
Over the years, the project evolved into a powerful awareness tool and a conversation starter about missing or murdered Indigenous women in most communities across the country.
Stephanie Goudie, an anti-racism activist in Northern B.C. posted the videos to Facebook on behalf of her friend who filmed the incident on Saturday, April 10.
“A good friend sent me these videos, hesitant to post or share in case of backlash, yet horrified by what they witnessed,” she wrote. “To see the desecration of something so meaningful is heartbreaking and very disturbing.”
Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone said in a Facebook post that the actions of the men are ‘beyond racism’.
“I am gutted that these men could be so awful as to inflict further hurt and pain on those who have already suffered so much. I hope the individuals are identified and held accountable for this,” Stone wrote.
The men in the video have not yet been identified.