College partners with Métis artist on Red Shirt design to honour MMIWG2S

October 4, 2023

Tattoo and multimedia artist Shayre Curé says her art is often specifically created for the enjoyment of clients and customers, whether it’s displayed in their houses or on their skin.

This year, Curé partnered with RRC Polytech to create an original Red Shirt design to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit People (MMIWG2S) and to support the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award for Indigenous students.

“As a Métis artist, my goal is to create art that brings awareness to this important issue,” says Curé. “I want my art to not only reflect cultural heritage, but to inspire future generations to continue the fight for justice, equality, and empowerment.”

The new design portrays a woman with the emblematic handprint over her mouth representing the “No More Stolen Sisters” movement, which was launched to express the outrage and grief over the loss of so many women, girls and Two Spirit people that — in many cases — could have been prevented. Curé worked in collaboration with a committee of Indigenous staff at the College to come up with the concept.

Her relationship with RRC Polytech first began earlier this year, when the Indigenous Student Support Centre purchased a piece from her entitled “The Silent Genocide on Turtle Island.”

It was a piece that took her years to complete. In 2018, she’d hand-drawn the concept after her best friend Kayla was killed in a hit-and-run. The death of her best friend was devastating, though grief was not unfamiliar to Curé, as Kayla’s brother had also been murdered eight years prior in 2010.

She’s also known many people whose friends and family have gone missing or were killed over the years, and says it’s humbling to be able to honour them through her art and bring light to their stories.

Curé returned to the concept last October, when previously undisclosed details of Kayla’s case were revealed. To deal with the emotion that bubbled to the surface, the pain of injustice, and the reminder of loss, she transformed the original hand-drawn concept into a multimedia painting using acrylic paint and beads.

The emotional and powerful expression of grief and hope captured in the painting moved RRC Polytech to approach Curé with another opportunity to collaborate — this time on a new Red Shirt design to bring more awareness to MMIWG2S, and to support Indigenous students through the proceeds from sales.

“Since settlers set foot on Turtle Island, a silent genocide has been perpetuated against Indigenous women … (who) are 12 times more likely to be murdered or to go missing than non-Indigenous women in Canada,” says Curé, who’s been tattooing at Tattoos by Rodriguez for the past five years and regularly creates art on skin and canvas alike.

“Through the design of this shirt, along with the acrylic painting I created for the Indigenous Student Support Centre, I pay tribute to my best friend Kayla Arkinson — her life was tragically taken on June 23, 2018, in Sagkeeng First Nation.”

Curé’s Red Shirts can be purchased at the College’s Campus Stores, with all proceeds going to the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award. Every Red Shirt is produced and supplied by Red Rebel Armour, owned and operated by Indigenous RRC Polytech graduate Sean Rayland-Boubar.

“Working with Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs to represent Indigenous ideas and movements is integral to the societal change we aim for,” says Carla Kematch, the College’s Director of Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement.

“Initiatives like the Orange and Red Shirts are not only a strong way to raise awareness of truth and Indigenous history, but it’s also an opportunity for Indigenous people to participate in their own stories. Curé’s story is unique but many people know it well from their own experience, which makes it all the more powerful.”

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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