On May 5, the Ponoka Jubilee Library and several community partners are holding an event for Red Dress Day to honour and raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit Persons (MMIWG2S).
The event was organized in collaboration with Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) and with support from McMan Family Services, the Town of Ponoka and Ponoka and Rimbey Adult Learning Centre.
Tiffany Toma, library programmer, worked with Erin Freadrich, the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Student Success Coordinator at WCPS, on the event, among others.
“Ponoka Jubilee Library and Wolf Creek Public School board have a strong belief in working towards tangible goals of Truth and Reconciliation,” said Toma. “This event is a step towards that end.
“Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited … are disproportionately at risk to be lost to us. 12 times more likely to be exact.”
The ceremony, starting at 1 p.m. at Lions Centennial Park, is open to the public.
There will be an opening prayer, land acknowledgement and an elder teaching, followed by an honour song by singer and dancer Bree Harris.
Speakers Chevi Rabbit and Ceejay Currie will then address the crowd.
They will be joined by Elder Bert Bull, Elder Sheila Potts, Elder Effie Janvier, Josephine Small, Knowledge Keeper Roy Louis and drummers.
There will be a short theatre piece, after which everyone will receive a strip of red fabric to represent one of the over 1,200 MMIWG to hold with them as they take a memorial walk around the pond accompanied by the drummers.
The walk will be completed by tying the strips to the fence along Highway 2A. The strips of fabric will remain in place for a week or longer.
The event will then be completed with bannock and berries to finish off the ceremony.
“To ensure all participants feel emotionally safe and secure, we will be setting up an emotional wellness section,” said Toma.
The area will be away from the main presentation and a staff member will be onsite throughout the event to offer assistance for anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed.
“This event is our labour of love to bring awareness to those who didn’t know, acknowledge the loss, and bring support and understanding into our world,” said Toma.
“It warms my heart to find the support of like-minded organizations in our small town and we are so grateful for the partnerships we have created during this endeavour.”