Red dresses hang in Labrador for missing and murdered aboriginal women
Dozens of red dresses hung from trees in Happy Valley-Goose Bay this Saturday, symbolizing the more than 100 missing and murdered aboriginal women from the area.
More than 30 people braved -30 C temperatures to honour lost mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.
"Its very eye-opening to see all the red dresses being hung and recognizing the people that are murdered in Labrador," said Jennifer Hefler-Elson, executive director of the Labrador Friendship Centre.
"I'm sure it will bring awareness as people drive past and see the dresses and wonder why they're there, and hopefully they'll ask questions and see what it's all about."
The event was part of the REDress Project, a nationwide art piece honouring the more than 1,000 missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
Similar events have taken place in locations across the country since 2010.
The Labrador Friendship Centre, the Mokami Status of Women Council, and other community groups helped put the event together in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for the first time this February.
Two-years since Loretta Saunders' death
Saturday was particularly significant, as it also marked the second anniversary of the death of Loretta Saunders, a young Inuk woman from Labrador who was murdered in Halifax. Saunders, who was pregnant, had been researching the cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women as part of her university studies.
Her parents were at the event, hanging a dress for their daughter and a tiny red tutu for their unborn grandchild.
"Before Loretta was murdered I didn't realize how many other Aboriginal women were murdered and missing," said Loretta's mother, Miriam Saunders.
"It's sad that it took my daughter's death in order for me to realize all the murdered and missing."
Remembering lost family members
Another woman, Angie Michelin, came to remember her cousin Bernice Rich, who was murdered at age 23 nearly three years ago.
"She was the most happiest person that you would meet. She was not shy — she did everything for my grandmother, she helped her," said Michelin, who said her grandmother is still heartbroken over the loss.
"She was always happy. She was kind, and anybody [who] knew her would say the same."
The federal government finished consultations on how best to conduct an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada on Monday.
With files from Alyson Samson