Dozens gathered to walk in remembrance and awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Maskwacis, Alta., the morning of May 5, 2022.
May 5 is recognized as Red Dress Day across Canada and red dresses are put on display and worn to serve as a reminder of more than 1,000 Canadian missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, transgender and two-spirit individuals.
The walk which was followed by speeches by various community members at the Neyaskweyahk Okimaw Kamik (NOK) Ermineskin community hall was organized by the Ermineskin Women’s Shelter Society.
Many along the walk carried pictures of loved ones that are now part of the MMIWG.
Loverna Cutknife carried a picture of her best friend Shavanna Buffalo and walked with Buffalo’s niece Janine Omeasoo. Both said that they walked to honour Buffalo’s memory and still feel devastated by her death three years on.
“She was everything,” said Omeasoo. “Keep each other close and watch over each other because you never know when will be the last time you see them.”
Cutknife says that MMIWG touches everyone’s family in the community and therefore everyone should get involved.
Cutknife says, “for the girls who are out there and the men that are in bad relationships—leave.”
Director of the Ermineskin Women’s Shelter Society, Sandra Ermineskin says that the theme of this year’s walk was ‘awareness’. However, in addition to awareness, she says action needs to be taken by the community.
“We are aware of what is happening,” says Ermineskin.
“What is the action? What is the follow through to protect women? For those women who don’t have a voice we need to be the voice.”
Maskwacis RCMP detachment commander, Inspector Leanne MacMillan, spoke following the walk on how the Maskwacis RMCP is working to reduce domestic violence in the community and they have plans for programming specifically with a focus on working with youth that will aid in this goal.
Ermineskin says that she is glad to hear the Maskwacis RCMP have plans for action and reiterates that it will take everyone getting involved to make a change.