By Katarina Ziervogel

Before Terri Viker-Cote moved to New Liskeard in Ontario, a small, charming town located at the head of great Lake Temiskaming that flows south into the Ottawa River, she originated from Carry the Kettle First Nation, Saskatchewan and spent the most of her early days in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

For many years, Terri Viker-Cote poured most of her creativity and passion into the kitchen designing and made living out of it. “I’ve always had a bit of creativity in my bones, but have never really found the part that makes me whole,” says Terri. Until two years ago. Terri realized she wanted to get involved with her own culture more, she asked her sister what would be a good hobby to start with. Her sister suggested beading. After taking her suggestion, Terri picked up some supplies and taught herself how to bead via YouTube tutorials.  “It turns out that I’m not half bad at it. And I’ve been beading ever since.” says Terri with great pride of her newfound, hidden talent.

Her beadworks are impressive for someone who only has been beading for two years. “Most of the elements came from beadwork that my great grandmother put on my grandfather’s clothing.” It appears that Terri’s beading may have stemmed from her great grandmother as she was super talented at beading. It’s clear where she got her hard-earned talent and taste for beading from.  “Right now I haven’t got a page for my beadwork. But I will work on that,” says Terri who aims to share her beautiful beadwork with the world soon.

Beading is not the only creative medium she is passionate about– she also has designed a poster dedicated to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls campaign as she is also a passionate advocate. “A few months back my other sister gave me this beautiful bag. It was of the sisters collection. Then I got to thinking why hasn’t anyone made a bag or something to express the MMIWG,” she recalled. “I got thinking about our relatives and how so many are missing, some for decades some only for days. It was like a light came on and I felt that maybe there needed to be a bigger statement. Something bold and something maybe a little shocking.”  Says Terri, who first shared her poster with me. Before this, she has never revealed her poster’s design to anyone else until now.

The poster reads “SOMEONE IS M SSING – Bring back our mothers, daughters, and sisters” with a distinctive logo of an iconic red dress, which is linked to the REDress Project campaign that focuses on collecting all 600 red dress as part of an installation art project to spread the awareness of MMIWG. If you look closer at the logo — what seems to be like an unknown hand squeezing the life out of the red dress, resulting into few teardrops of blood dripping at bottom of the red dress. Also, in the headline, one letter seems to have vanished from the word “Missing”. Terri explains the significant meaning behind the word. “The reason I left that out was to help people realize what life is like when a part of you is missing, with the “I” gone it makes a statement, “I” am missing, not just someone is missing.” she says. This sends a spine-chilling, haunting message to all people about what is really happening to all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Though Terri Viker-Cote has proven to be an accomplished kitchen designer, she continues to express her own identity and culture through various creative mediums and is a strong advocate for MMIWG. “I just like to say that, if we want people to take notice and start talking about it and doing stuff about it, we need to put it out there aggressively and boldly. We need to let everyone know that we will not lie down quietly. This is the new us! The strong and the powerful. Our women are what makes this world what it is, without us, no man would be alive. We are the power we hold the power. Time to find our missing women and time to get the answers to all those questions. As my Auntie once said to me, ‘We are a matriarchal society,’ we must prevail.” Terri say with a strong sense of self-empowerment.