The National Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is being observed in Onion Lake Cree Nation with a return to their traditional walk which was curtailed over the COVID months.
Organizer Tamara Pahtayken says they will follow cultural protocol beginning with a pipe ceremony and prayer on Thursday at 8 a.m. The community will gather at Chief Taylor School for the start of the walk which will have participation from the five local schools.
The Sakāskohc High School students will run from Kihew Waciston Cree Immersion School parking lot along the stretch of Highway 17 to where the red teepee is located at the memorial site near the entrance to Onion Lake. Community members have been preparing the site and have set up extra teepees for the Red Dress Day event to help community members with the ongoing grief of losing a loved one.
Pahtayken says this is a big event in terms of bringing home their stolen sisters and brothers.
“Once anybody loses somebody, they don’t stop grieving. Grieving comes in waves and especially when it is unanswered in terms of losing a loved one and you can’t find the answers why they were murdered or why they are missing. It’s a different kind of ache.”
Pahtayken says the community gathering allows people to draw strength and not feel isolated as they recall their loved ones.
“These kinds of movements raise that awareness and also give a place for our families to heal. It gives a place for our families to come together to celebrate their little moments and also gives a chance for our community to come together.”
The day will be filled with singing and drumming as well as sharings from families. Onion Lake RCMP and security will accompany the runners and walkers to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons memorial site.