Nationally on February 14, walks are held throughout various cities in memory of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people who have been lost or are missing. It's an opportunity for their loved ones to grieve, remember them and raise awareness of the disparity in the number of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people who die nationally every year.
This year, the City's Indigenous Relations Office will be placing 4,000 red flags on the grounds of City Hall to commemorate and bring awareness to the estimated number of Indigenous women and girls missing.
"Today we have placed a visual reminder around City Hall of just how many Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people have been lost across the country," says Echo Nowak, Indigenous Relations Specialist.
Although there are only 1,724 confirmed deaths, the actual numbers are believed to be estimated at 4,000+ according to the National Inquiry of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
"The flags are certainly a conversation starter and an impactful way to bring this hard and complex issue into everyday discussions of those who see it and pass by," says Charlene Bruised Head Mountain Horse, Indigenous Relations Advisor. "The more we talk and help to share knowledge about the realities Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people face, the more understanding we can achieve in our community."
In 2015 The City of Lethbridge implemented a workplan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
"One of the reasons City Council permanently proclaimed October 4 as Sisters in Spirit Day in 2021, is to help raise awareness of issues like the disparity of deaths the Indigenous community experiences," says Councillor Belinda Crowson. "Displays like the one at City Hall today show the City has an ongoing commitment to supporting and valuing the issues that face many in our community, while acknowledging there is always more work to be done."
The City's work plan includes 25 recommendations and a series of projects aimed at addressing social, economic, cultural, and institutional barriers facing Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples in our community.
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