Red Dress Day participants pray for healing and justice

Scenes from the REDress Day Walk in La Ronge May 5. Photos courtesy of Piwapan Women’s Centre

Piwapan Women’s Centre and the La Ronge Native Women’s Council hosted a Walk and commemorative event for Red Dress Day on Thursday, May 5.
“We start our day with prayers for healing, safety and justice for all Indigenous women, our families and our communities,” said event speaker Abby McIntyre, an Indian Residential School Cultural Support Worker with the Lac La Ronge Indian Band Health Services.
McIntyre spoke about prayers being rooted in Indigenous identities, customs and traditions in the face of colonization and genocide. There was a minute silence for all the Missing and Murdered Women and Girls.
McIntyre said the day was a time to honour Indigenous women, “who are respected and held sacred and have been missing or murdered.”
She spoke about the challenges for Indigenous families in the face of the injustice’s they face when a woman is missing or murdered.
“There is a lack of effort when it comes to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” she said. “We are hopeful to raise awareness and support the families … We are here for them, we care for them and we hear their voices.”
McIntyre said Indigenous women were considered Sacred before the arrival of Europeans. She said they played an essential role in health, spirituality, education, economy and politics of their communities.
“This dynamic changed through the imposition of European Patriarchy policies which have continued to the present,” she added.
Red Dress Day is an annual event, which grew out of the REDress Project. It has grown into a national day to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and to remember those lost.
Métis artist Jaime Black created the project in 2010 and it has become a national movement dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging Canadians to learn more about Missing and Murdered women.
The Walk began at the Lac La Ronge Indian Band Office and continued down La Ronge Avenue to the kiskinwuhumatowin Urban Reserve where lunch was provided and speakers addressed the crowd.
Beaded pins and masks, with red hands imprinted on them, were handed out to participants following the walk along with informational packets.
Karen Sanderson, executive director of Piwapan Women’s Shelter, spoke on behalf of Regina and Carson Poitras, whose daughter, Happy Charles, has been missing for five-years. She was last seen April 3, 2017 in Prince Albert.
They have worked to find their daughter with searches and advocating with police and media, along with speaking and supporting other families throughout the five years.
“The role of advocate is a heavy one when you’re grieving at the same time, and not knowing is a grief that doesn’t stop or subside as time goes on. The family will continue to advocate for families going through the same less and we hope our voices are heard by those who can help make these changes towards healing and prevention,” Sanderson said.
Red dresses hung in the trees behind the gathering in honour and remembrance of the Missing and Murdered Women and Girls.
Senator Myles Venne School (SMVS) held a daylong event to mark REDress Day, Honouring our Sisters also on Thursday May, 5.
The day began with a presentation on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada and included Drumming, Healthy Relationships, Art Therapy, Drum Teachings, and Tipi Teachings.
They participated in an Awareness Walk and created Faceless Dolls in memory of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada.