Local march planned for MMIWG

Jennifer Kelley of the Friendship Centre and MLA Martin Long at last year’s Red Dress event at green square. File photo

Masha Scheele

A physical distancing walk will be held in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) this October in Hinton.

This will be the fifth annual event for MMIWG hosted by the Hinton Friendship Centre Society, but this year looks a little bit different than other years due to COVID-19.

“We will be doing a walk with physical distance and we are hoping to have some items to give [away],” said Lisa Higgerty, co-executive director of the Hinton Friendship Centre Society.

The event is held on Oct. 4, but plans have not been finalized yet. Friendship Centre staff are planning to have the walk end in the Green Square, similar to other years.

Indigenous dancers and drummers performed in Green square last year.

Last year, red dresses appeared around town on Oct. 4, something that sparked a lot of discussion and conversation amongst residents.

The red dresses blowing in the wind served as a reminder of the more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada since 1980, according to police reports, and part of the REDdress project.

Last year was also the third year red dresses were displayed in Hinton and even though the Friendship Centre received a lot of support, many people still didn’t know what the significance of the red dresses was, according to Friendship Centre staff.

Staff added that it is good when people question the purpose of the red dresses because it helps to raise awareness and start conversation.

The red dresses mark the absence of the women who are no longer with their loved ones, but another big issue to address is the fact that missing indigenous women sometimes go unreported, Higgerty said last year.

The Friendship Centre holds a group each week for the families of missing and murdered women and girls, as well as a therapeutic program in Edson and Hinton.

The REDdress project was initially started by Winnipeg-based Métis artist Jaime Black in 2010 and is an aesthetic response to a critical national issue.

Jaime Black is an emerging, metis multidisciplinary artist, who attempts to create dialogue around social and political issues through her artwork.

Since then, Sisters in Spirit honours the memory of those women and girls in Canada every Oct. 4 with vigils and events. The artist hoped to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against indigenous women.

Last year, Mayor Marcel Michaels declared Oct. 4 as missing and murdered indigenous women and girls honouring and awareness day to be acknowledged every year.