Hundreds gather in downtown Edmonton to mark National Red Dress Day

There was a sea of red in downtown Edmonton on Thursday as about 400 people marked National Red Dress Day.

Many were holding tightly onto signs that had messages of love, calls for justice and pictures of loved ones who are missing or murdered.

National Red Dress day honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, but men and boys are not left out.

Ronald Beaver came with his family. He painted wooden signs to honour his sister Audrey Beaver. She was last seen in August 2020 in Edmonton. Ronald hopes she will be found.

Read more: Families remember their loved ones on MMIW National Awareness Day

“Audrey is my sister, and we obviously pray and think about her everyday,” he said.

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While coming to the event was emotional, Ronald said it felt like the right place to be.

“It is a beautiful way to honour our Indigenous people,” he said.

Irene Natress came with signs that had pictures of her son Jeremy Natress. He was found dead in a hotel room in 2016. He was 34 years old.

“My son was very kind. He didn’t deserve to be murdered,” Irene said. “I am very honoured to walk with the victims of homicide.

“We have to get it out there to all the people that don’t know what we are going through.”

The group left Churchill Square and walked down Jasper Avenue to Beaver Hills Park. There, grieving families went up to an open mic to share their stories to say their loved ones’ names.

Judith Gale of the Bear Clan Patrol helped organize the event. She wants to remember her sister Laurel.

“She was murdered in Montreal, Que., at 16 years old, and that was the 80s,” Gale said.

She said no one looked for her sister and she was labelled a Jane Doe for three months in the morgue.

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“I do this day for her, because I love and miss her dearly.”

Gale said it’s important to bring the names to life, so their spirits know that they are missed and not forgotten.

Samantha Ming helped create red ribbon skirts to give to victims’ families. She was pleased to see a good turnout.

“We are helping give their names back. In our culture, we believe that spirit sees red, so we are hoping our spirits see us,” Ming said.

“Our hope is that they’re walking alongside us as well.”

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