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Red Dress Day marked in Thompson and elsewhere

The National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls saw three walks organized in the Hub of the North.

A trio of walks marked the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Gender Diverse People in Thompson May 5.

Students from Deerwood School and other schools marched around Deerwood Drive, Cree Road and Thompson Drive with an RCMP escort while R.D. Parker Collegiate students and staff walked from the school to the Miles Hart Bridge to tie ribbons and make tobacco offerings in honour of those whose lives have been lost.

Earlier in the day, also known as Red Dress Day. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak hosted an awareness walk starting form their office on Selkirk Avenue.

"My heart hurts for all those who have been impacted by the nationwide crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a news release. “On behalf of MKO First Nations, I will continue to advocate for all levels of government to continue to implement the 231 Calls for Justice stemming from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I urge other MKO citizens to stand with me in solidarity and work to end gender-based violence in our communities.”

MKO’s call for implementation of the MMIWG inquiry’s Calls for Justice was echoed by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

“Today is a time to take time to pause, reflect and gather in a good way to commemorate the day with ceremony, walks and gatherings,” said AMC women’s council chair and War Lake First Nation Chief Betsy Kennedy. “We continue to call on Canada to meaningfully involve First Nations in Manitoba to implement the outstanding recommendations of the MMIWG national inquiry as they identified ways to better protect First Nation women, girls and gender-diverse people. All First Nations women and future generations deserve to live life protected from the fear of violence or being taken.”

In Winnipeg, the legislative building was due to be lit with a symbolic red dress to shine light on the issue of MMIWG.

“Addressing violence, in particular the incidences of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, is a priority for the province and it is our government’s intent to continue to take action to prevent and combat gender-based violence of all forms,” said a statement from Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson and Alan Lagimodiere, minister of Indigenous reconciliation and northern relations.

The North West Company, which operates Northern and NorthMart stores in many Fist Nations in northern Canada, was selling red t-shirts in its stores to raise money for the Native Women’s Association of Canada. The shirts were produced by Dreamcatcher Promotions, an Indigenous-owned promo and apparel company, from a design by a 14-year-old Indigenous youth whose family has been impacted by MMIWG.

“This issue affects our employees, customer and the communities served by Northern and NorthMart stores," said North West Company CEO Dan McConnell. “We want to do our part to help raise awareness, honour the murdered and missing and stand in solidarity with their families and friends.”

In addition to selling the shirts, North West’s stores, warehouses and offices were hosting a live-streamed presentation and encouraging staff to wear red, reflect, share and learn.