The sidewalk in front of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society has been painted to mark Red Dress Day.
There will also be a ceremony in City Hall Park at 9 a.m. on Friday to mark Red Dress Day, which is held every year to recognize and commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women, children and two-spirit people.
Members of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society were painting the sidewalk as a way to promote Friday’s event, which is being co-hosted by the society, Urban Aboriginal Voices Society and the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery.
“It’s so important to mark Red Dress Day,” said Bee Henry, gender-based violence prevention project facilitator with the society.
“Indigenous people in Canada face a disproportionate amount of violence. By bringing visibility to the (Red Dress Day) event, we’re promoting safety for the community as well as awareness for this ongoing issue so we can make positive change going forward.
“It’s critical to bring awareness to our missing and murdered Indigenous women, children and two-spirit people because they’re facing so much violence. It’s exciting that the governments and municipalities are starting to get more involved and make some moves and changes happen. To continue with that momentum it’s important for us to hold … this event.”
Friday’s ceremony will feature comments from the city’s mayor, as well as a prayer and honour song. Community members will also be invited to tell their own personal stories to “open up the door for healing through sharing,” Henry explained.
Attendees will then march over to the Red Deer Museum for lunch and reflection.
Shining Mountains Living Community will also be hosting a Red Dress Day event in Red Deer on Friday. That event, scheduled for City Hall Park at 5 p.m., will feature the hanging of red dresses and a walk to remember murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
Métis artist Jaime Black helped inspire the red dress movement, where red dresses are hung from windows and trees to represent the pain and loss felt by loved ones and survivors.
Originally starting as the REDdress art installation, Red Dress Day became a grassroots movement across North America.
The artist chose the colour red after speaking with an Indigenous friend who told her that is the only colour spirits can see. Red dresses are used to call the spirits of missing and murdered women and girls back to their loved ones.
The goal was to speak to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Indigenous women and to evoke a presence by marking absence.