Property owners along Fourth Avenue North in Williams Lake have red dresses hanging in trees to honour National of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, May 5. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Property owners along Fourth Avenue North in Williams Lake have red dresses hanging in trees to honour National of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, May 5. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

National Day of Action for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls marked in Williams Lake

Two sacred fires will be hosted by First Nations organizations

Two sacred fires will be lit in Williams Lake Thursday, May 5, to mark National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The first one will take place at the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) building at 1729 South Lakeside Drive from 10 a.m. to noon.

Joyce Charleyboy of the Tŝilhqot’in Ts’iqi Dechen Jedilhtan (Tsilhqot’in Women’s Council) said everyone is welcome, encouraged to bring a drum and wear red.

Beginning at 1 p.m. the Cariboo Friendship Society will host a sacred fire in the upper parking lot of the Stampede Grounds.

In a recent interview CFS executive director Rosanna McGregor said the event will give people the opportunity to put a tobacco tie in the fire, write a message to a loved one on a red paper to put into the fire and burn it.

“The smoke will go to the Creator or your loved ones. The same with bad thoughts. If you want to get rid of them — away they go,” she said.

READ MORE: Williams Lake RCMP receive MMIWG awareness pins from Cariboo Friendship Society

Indigenous women are at least 5.5 times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women, the BC Assembly of First Nations noted in a news release issued May 5, 2022.

“Factors that play a significant role in this horrific statistic include, colonial policies – residential schools, 60’s Scoop, forced relocation, proximity to work camps, racism, historical and ongoing trauma, and social-economic disparities. In addition, emerging data and reports have shown violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people have increased during the pandemic.”

In a joint statement Minister of Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu; Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller; and Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal said:

“Today’s day of remembering was inspired by Jaime Black’s REDress art installation project, which included red dresses placed in public spaces as a visual reminder of the pain and loss felt by families and survivors of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

The intent of the red dresses, hanging empty, sometimes gently waving in the breeze, was to highlight the absence of the loved ones who were once close. It has been said that red is the colour that spirits can see.

This project inspired a grassroots movement across North America for all to remember and recognize this loss and became what is now Red Dress Day, a national day for all Canadians to reflect and recognize that we must all take action.

Red Dress Day is a time for us all to honour the strength shown by families and survivors and reflect on what each one of us can do on a daily basis to help end this national tragedy.

In our roles as Minister of Indigenous Services, Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Northern Affairs, we are committed to effecting change and supporting survivors, families, and communities, while living up to our goals as a country and all the Calls for Justice. Systemic change will take time, but rest assured, we will continue to work diligently to address the root causes and the systemic overhaul that is needed. We remain dedicated, now and in the future, to ending gender-based violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

Our relationships with Indigenous Peoples are strengthened when we collectively address injustices, combat prejudice, and pursue the truth, as painful as it is.”



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