Missing, murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people will be remembered and honoured in Prince Rupert community walk to commemorate Red Dress Day on May 5.
The 6 p.m. walk will start at the courthouse lawn and head down 3rd Ave. ending at the Nisga’a Hall with a women’s warrior song, addresses from family members of the MMIWG and community support will be available.
The City of Prince Rupert posted on its social media page that the event has been coordinated locally to raise awareness about the issue of the missing and murdered, to honour those lost and to commit to a better future.
“As a community located along the Highway of Tears, we know too well the heartbreak and loss that our communities have collectively shared. We encourage folks to come out and walk in solidarity and to wear red in support,” the city stated.
Chantal Meggison, one of several organizers of the walk, said the event is significant to the Prince Rupert community as one included in the Highway of Tears.
“A lot of families have lost loved ones. For First Nations women, the statistics are so much higher. This gathering gives families the opportunities to honour those murdered and missing and to create awareness,” she said.
Skeena Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach joined with Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan to host a virtual event on May 3 with constituents to push for the government to create a National Red Dress Awareness system.
“The crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls has had a devastating impact on families and communities in our region,” Bachrach said. “The Red Dress Alert will be an important tool to ensure when families’ loved ones go missing, they are found as soon as possible.”
This system would use the cell phone network to alert the public when Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people are reported missing.
The virtual event took place just a day after parliament unanimously adopted MP Gazan’s motion calling on the federal government to declare ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people a national emergency. The motion also urged the government to create the Red Dress Alert system.
“I’m very pleased today that all members of Parliament are acknowledging the truth about the history in this country, as a way to move forward,” Gazan said in response to acceptance of the motion. “It’s one thing to acknowledge the truth. It’s another thing to act on it. We don’t have the privilege to discuss and debate … Our loved ones are going missing and the government needs to act now.”
Meggison said she wishes the MMIWG crisis had been acknowledged as an emergency much sooner but she is still grateful for the government’s forward action.
“Why has it taken so long? When I say ‘it’s about time,’ I mean why did all of those names have to pile so high? If this emergency had been recognized sooner, it may have prevented missing women or brought them home sooner. It’s shameful and sad that so many have not made it home,” she said.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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