Crowds gathered on May 5 for Red Dress Day across B.C., including Vanderhoof and Fort St. James to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
In Fort St. James, a rally of more than 100 people took place from the district office to 4 corners.
The event was organized by Davis Monk from Binche Whut’en, Illaih Sam and Maddison Sam from Nak’azdli Whut’en.
“I have been raising awareness since 2018-2019. I have been doing photoshoots with women from Tl’azt’en and Binche, and then did one with Nak’azdli. And I feel like it gives me the opportunity to help the women just to make sure they know they have a voice and will be heard. That there are resources for them to feel safe,” he said.
Drumming, singing and prayers were held, and Monk said a medicine man and his wife blessed all directions of the Medicine Wheel – spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual.
This event will happen every year and Monk said he will continue doing photoshoots to raise awareness.
“Wear red when you feel like you can help someone. I would like the women to know that wearing red symbolizes our sisters are lost and we haven’t forgotten about that.”
Red Dress Day is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirited people in Canada. The day was inspired by the work of Métis artist Jamie Black. The project began in 2010 after Black displayed an installation at the University of Winnipeg that included a series of empty red dresses to honour and symbolize the lost lives of Indigenous women at the hands of violence.