Multiple Friendship Centers in the Lakeland are recognizing National Red Dress Day on Thursday.
Red Dress Day on May 5th is a dedicated day to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and is meant to raise awareness about the high level of violence that Indigenous women go through, as well as the disproportionate number who are missing.
There are events happening in Cold Lake throughout the day to shed light on the MMIWG issue.
At Joe Hefner Park, there will be a tribute by Fawn Wood and the Kehewin Native Dance Theatre, while family members of MMIWG will share their stories from 1:00-6:00pm.
As well, there will be a display of Red Dress and photos honouring these missing women on Millenium Trail, from 4 Wing to New Imperial Inn. This is happening from 3:00-6:00pm.
The Mannawanis Native Friendship Centre is having a “REDress Runway” which is meant to amplify the voices of MMIWG. It’s happening Thursday evening at the centre, which kicks off with a traditional pipe ceremony and feast. The event will conclude with a small round dance.
The Bonnyville Friendship Centre will be creating a window display that embraces those whom are still missing and those whom have been murdered.
As Janet Gobert explains, Community Initiatives Coordinator, their group will commemorate the MMIW with a large-scale vigil on October 4, but this day is significant in the government recognizing the problem.
“May 5th has been set as the National Red Dress Day to honour the spirit of the MMIWG and symbolize the violent epidemic Indigenous women face every day,” said Gobert to Lakeland Connect. “It is imperative to recognize that this is not simply an Indigenous issue, as 80 per cent of sex crimes on First Nations are committed by Non-Indigenous men. The empty Red Dresses that will be hung on May 5 evokes the absence of the women and girls and is a solemn reminder of those who have gone missing.”
A related initiative is planned in two weeks time in front of Bonnyville Town Hall.
Called the Red Sand Project, the event will raise community awareness for human trafficking victims using a symbolic approach, with the grains of red sand representing those individuals who fall through the cracks.
It’s gained steam in over 70 countries, and locally will see dignitaries, youth, community partners, and members of the Bonnyville Friendship Centre team and the Human Trafficking Prevention Board, be given red sand to fill the cracks of the sidewalk.