May 5th is a day to remember and honor all missing and murdered Indigenous women.
A local organizer for Red Dress Day, Gabrielle Whiskeyjack, says the day is meant to raise awareness about the high level of violence that Indigenous women go through and the disproportionate number who are missing.
“We want to honor and remember missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and we also want to educate the people and bring awareness to the movement and the day.”
Whiskeyjack is encouraging everyone to wear red or place an empty red dress outside their home.
“The red dress is a symbol. It is an empty dress and a symbol that a woman or girl should be wearing that dress but they are not because they were taken from us.”
While driving around last year Whiskeyjack said seeing all the dresses filled her with pride.
“When driving around last year I saw a bunch of red dresses and it made me feel so proud. People are coming together and different business organizations are helping to all raise awareness and make this day memorable for all the missing and murdered indigenous women.”
Many towns and cities across The Lakeland are taking time to reflect and raise awareness for the missing women and girls.
- Joe Hefner Park will see a tribute by Fawn Wood and the Kehewin Native Dance Theatre with family members of MMIWG sharing stories from 1:00-6:00pm.
- A display of photos and red dresses will be displayed from 4 Wing to New Imperial Inn from 3:00-6:00pm.
- The Bonnyville Friendship Centre is planning to create a window display to embrace all the MMIWG.
However, Whiskeyjack states there is still more that needs to be done.
“Number one the RCMP and the media need to take it seriously when someone goes missing. Report more on the individuals who are missing and the ones who have been murdered. Even with what happened with the residential schools. After the 215 and after a couple more bodies were discovered the media stopped talking about it. Everyone needs to step up and raise more awareness.”
Red Dress Day started back in 2010 as an offshoot of a project by Métis artist Jamie Black meant to bring attention to this issue
Cold Lake has made Red Dress Day a proclamation day and will see Cold Lake’s Mayor reading the proclamation for red dress day at around 3 pm. at Joe Hefner Park.