On Oct. 5, an awareness campaign to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls reemerged in Thompson after a three-year gap.
At around 5 p.m., a group of over 50 people walked down to the Miles Hart Bridge and tied red ribbons to the structure’s walkway railing as a way to remember those they’ve lost and to highlight the fact that many are still unaccounted for.
“Almost every red ribbon and tie today represents a person,” said event facilitator Bobbi Montean. “There was a woman whose daughter was murdered and there was family here that are currently doing an active search for their missing mother.”
This gathering at the Miles Hart Bridge is especially relevant today, since the structure overlooks the Burntwood River, which has been the site of a relentless search and recovery operation for resident Dianne Bignell, who was last seen in May.
According to Montean, she and several other people organized a similar ribbon tying ceremony back in 2015, although that event took place in the dead of winter.
“The first one we did three years ago in December it was -25 [degrees] or something and the wind coming up was just wicked,” she said,
Organizing a follow-up event in the fall definitely paid off for Montean, since way more people attended this year’s event than she anticipated, with Friday’s group consisting of grieving families, sympathetic allies, city officials and members of the Thompson RCMP.
This red ribbon campaign, also known as the Red Cloth Ribbon Awareness Campaign, has its roots in Manitoba, with the movement getting kicked off in December 2015 thanks to a small group of Opaskwayak Cree Nation women from The Pas.
Montean said she decided to revive this campaign in the Hub of the North in 2018 to refresh the bridge with new ribbons and include some families who didn’t get the chance to honourtheir missing loved ones last time.
“The issue of murdered and missing is not going away,” Montean wrote in a Facebook message to theThompson Citizen. “And we need to remind people of that.”