April 14th, 2024

Red Dress Day remembers missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people


By Herald on May 5, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski - City of Lethbridge Indigenous relations co-ordinator Pamela Beebe speaks to reporters in front of city hall on Wednesday about the importance of marking Red Dress Day.

Tim Kalinowski – Lethbridge Herald

The City of Lethbridge marked Red Dress Day in memory of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people by hanging two bright red dresses among the green leaves of a weeping willow in front of city hall on Wednesday.

“Today is an important day,” stated Mayor Chris Spearman. “It tells the families of murdered and missing women that they have not been forgotten. The red dress is symbolic of murdered and missing Indigenous women, and those families feel abandoned. Those stories have been forgotten for too long.

“Remembering and acknowledging the injustices, the lack of follow-up, the lack of resolution. These families have lived with this for years, and in some cases for decades. And so having a Red Dress Day, and recognizing that these stories occur. That these families are still looking for answers, and that this can’t continue to happen. That is what we are doing today: trying to address a wrong that has taken place for many years and many decades.”

City of Lethbridge Indigenous relations co-ordinator Pamela Beebe helped organize the commemoration on Wednesday. She said it is important to acknowledge that violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people is not just a thing of the past, but an ongoing crisis.

“Red has become a very important colour (for Indigenous and Metis people), because it calls to our ancestors,” Beebe explained. “It is the colour they are drawn to so those women and girls can be brought home and laid to rest. We wear red in order to remember our ancestors and call on our ancestors to help us with this very important issue.

“Unfortunately, violence toward Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people is an ongoing crisis,” she stated. “Human trafficking is an ongoing crisis. There are so many different ways and issues the general public can find out more, and find out ways to help prevent further tragedies.”

Beebe said national Red Dress Day was an important moment in the year to acknowledge this continuing tragedy, but that was also why the Reconciliation Lethbridge committee in conjunction with Sisters in Spirit were working with local Indigenous artists to create a permanent monument in the community which will act as a perpetual reminder to all local citizens that more must be done.

“It will be very significant, and very beautiful,” she said. “We are going to keep remembering those women, and girls, and two-spirited people. We are going to march, we are going to have projects where we invite the public, we are going to have walks, and we are going to keep doing this (awareness) for a long time coming.”

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