by Kerstin Auer —

Preparations for Red Dress Day started weeks ago at Nlaka’pamux Health Services, with the organization holding a beading event in their boardroom in downtown Merritt. The event was open to community members who either wanted to grab a kit for beading red dress pins, work on the project together, or a just have a chat. The goal is to have the pins completed by Red Dress Day on May 5th, with kits containing enough beads to make two or three pins. 

The idea to use a beading event to raise awareness about this important issue came from a desire to extend the reach beyond Red Dress Day. The red dress has become a symbol of the MMIWG2S+ movement, and a red dress pin can carry this statement into the community every day. 

“If you imagine a little red dress on your lapel or on your backpack as a person and that person representing that they are missing and murdered, two-spirit, or woman or a child, it brings a little bit of thought to it,” said Julia Munro, wellness coordinator for Nlaka’pamux Health Services.

“If someone doesn’t know what it is you’re able to answer that question and start talking about that sensitive issue; it’s encouraging people to ask questions.” 

A MMIWG walk is also planned in Lower Nicola on May 30, with all events around the red dress designed to confront and act as a symbol of the racialized and sexualized violence against all Indigenous people. 

“We’re confronting and using that power of presence to say we’re still here and we’re speaking for the people who are unable to speak any longer, we have them in the back of our mind.” added Munro. 

Nlaka’pamux Health Services hosts beading events with different themes, usually once a month. The events are attended by both first time beaders as well as experienced elders; creating a tangible item with beads is a great way to connect with each other and to have a creative outlet that’s beneficial for mental wellness.

For more information about the events, contact Julia Munro at 250-378-9772, or email [email protected].