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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Missing and Murdered

Missing and Murdered

2016 - Art Winner

Kelsey McLean-Smith

Calgary, AB
Kehewin and Fishing Lake
Age 18

Author's Statement

My name is Kelsey and I am eighteen years old. I grew up in foster care from six months old to seven years old. I was adopted shortly before my eighth birthday. I lived with my new parents until they divorced six years later. I eventually found my birth family on Facebook and was allowed to stay in contact with them, which has been amazing, I have been able to learn more about my past and where I come from. It has also helped to shape the person I am today. I spent a lot of years growing up in the care of white families and the idea of being aboriginal and coming from an aboriginal family became like a weird dream to me; I started to think it wasn’t true and that maybe I didn’t really belong anywhere. That idea is still true to this day but I feel a little bit better about it by knowing who my family actually is.
My aboriginal studies teacher was the one who told me about this contest and told me I should enter after watching me drawing in class everyday. My drawing is a representation of the missing and murdered aboriginal women. Over the past thirty years more than 1,181 women have gone missing and their cases have not been properly investigated. People don’t even know or care who these women are and that’s why I have burned her face out, because she has lost her identity. I originally wanted to put an eagle feather in her hair to show that those women were strong and brave and in a sense, warriors, but after doing some research I found that women were not allowed to wear them in their hair. After some thought I changed that idea into eagle feathers surrounding her to represent all the families who have lost someone and have had to fight and struggle though that experience and fight to be heard. I used eagle feathers because the families are strong and brave and no one can ever take that away from them. It also represents the women who are still “blowing in the breeze.”