People in both Lloydminster and The Onion Lake Cree Nation joined the rest of Canada in honouring Red Dress Day.
The day, May 5th, marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, a day that commemorates the victims of and highlights the ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-sprit peoples.
According to data from Statistics Canada, Indigenous women are almost six times more likely to be victims of homicide than non-Indigenous women and are at higher risk of having violence of any kind perpetrated against them.
Supporters gathered in Onion Lake on May 5th to commemorate all people from their community who have been victims of this violence. People gave speeches, held vigil, gave prayers and sang traditional songs to honour their friends, loved ones and family members impacted.
Onion Lake Chief Henry Lewis says for many people in his community, this day is about rebuilding lives as well.
“It’s not an easy thing when you lose somebody, even under normal circumstances, but in these cases, it takes a lot of time for people to heal. This is all about our healing when we do this, honouring our missing women. It also helps the people who were affected, who lost their loved ones.”
Here in Lloydminster, a gathering was held as well to acknowledge, support the families of and pay respects to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples.
Put on by Lloydminster & Vermilion For Equality, the event started with a traditional pipe ceremony at City Hall, followed by speeches and stories, traditional prayers and songs and then a solidarity march around the area.
While they did have to take precautions due to COVID-19, Tigra-Lee Campbell with LVFE says there was good attendance and important conversations held. She says this was an important step in our community for honouring these victims and fostering an ongoing conversation about awareness.
“This should not be just on one day a year. The awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous peoples needs to happen all year, 365 days a year.”
The RedDress project originally began life as an art installation in Manitoba in 2011, but quickly became a way for people across Canada to raise awareness.