The Smithers community marked the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited People (MMIWG2-S), also known as Red Dress Day, with two ceremonies May 5.
One was held at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre, where they had tents set up, a sacred fire burning and were making Bannock for everyone to enjoy. There were many community members who stopped by to receive educational materials for their children and participate in the ceremonies.
At one point, Muheim Elementary School children’s voices wafted up the street singing a song as they approached the ceremonies. They lined up and one of the young students read a statement on behalf of the students giving their condolences to the family members of missing and murdered people and singing a special song they had picked out for them.
It brought tears to many eyes watching, and then the students gave a bouquet of red roses to Sonya Palmer, a residential school survivor, who visits Muheim classes to share her stories.
Later in the day, there was an impromptu gathering of the families of MMIWG2-S, on Highway 16, across from the Smithers RCMP detachment. They were there to tell family stories of loss and grief.
Some expressed anger that the RCMP are still marginalizing those who have gone missing and making little to no progress on their loved ones’ cases.
A huge frustration for those gathered was a perceived lack of communication from the RCMP regarding any information about their daughters, mothers and aunts, they said.
It was an emotionally charged gathering that the RCMP did not attend.