Prince Albert non-profit delivers safety lessons ahead of National Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Jason Kerr/Daily Herald. Halo Mirasty holds up a sign during the Prince Albert Aboriginal Head Start honour walk Thursday morning.

Know who you can go to for help if you ever find yourself in danger.

That was the message when Prince Albert Aboriginal Head Start hosted an honour gathering on Thursday ahead of Red Shirt Day.

The annual event raises awareness about the large number of Indigenous women who are missing or murdered ever year. Head Start executive director Trena Larocque said the goal is to teach children how to spot danger and make safe choices.

“Our kids are very young, so I’m hoping they don’t have that issue, but we’re instilling that knowledge in them right now,” Larocque said. “Hopefully that will (continue) with them when they become teenagers and have a little bit more freedom.”

Red Shirt Day, also known as Red Dress Day or the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, is held annually on May 5. This year, that date falls on a Sunday, when children who are part of the program will be at home with their families.

Larocque said they wanted to recognize the day on Thursday to emphasize the importance of safety.

“It’s very important that these children know that they need to be safe, so we decided that we would do a walk to honour and make sure they were aware of how important this day is,” she explained.

Children involved in the head start program were part of march around downtown Prince Albert Thursday morning. They then took part in activities designed to teach them what to do if they feel threatened or in danger.

Larocque said they hope students will learn that it’s okay to ask for help when they are in trouble. Staff also emphasize the importance of knowing who to go to when they feel threatened. That list includes parents, relatives, and police officers.

Larocque said knowing where your children are, especially at night, is also important for keeping them safe.

“(It’s) being aware that when they are outside if they feel threatened and they’re young, to stay close to mom and dad, to stay close to their grandparents, to their relatives, (and) that they shouldn’t be wandering off too far on their own,” she said. “If they do feel in danger and if they are on their own, yell and get attention from someone so hopefully they can be taken care of and be brought back home.”

The Prince Albert Aboriginal Head Start Program is a non-profit preschool program that focuses on language development and cultural engagement. The program has space for 20 students at its 10th Street East location, plus another 25 spaces available as part of its home visit program.

The organization plans to host a community BBQ on Monday to give families a chance to check out the program.

Correction: This story has been updated to remove a sentence about families knowing where their children are that was incorrectly transcribed. The Daily Herald apologizes for the mistake.