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Prince George Red Dress Society to install monument near Highway 16

The structure will be located at Highway 16 and Ferry Avenue
PG Red Dress Society May 5
Tammy Miese stand with Brenda Wilson-John and Teddy Antoine of the Prince George Red Dress Society at the corner of Highway 16 and Ferry Avenue where the monument will be located.

There will soon be a permanent monument installed to commemorate Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) on the corner of Highway 16 and Ferry Avenue.

The Prince George Red Dress Society (PGRDS) made the announcement on May 5, which is the Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit people, and said the design for the monument will be unveiled in September.

“In 2019 the society was provided with funding by the federal government under the department for women and gender equality with the endorsement of Lheidli T’enneh First Nation,” said Tammy Miese, president of the PGRDS.

She says the project had been delayed for a couple of years because of complications with the COVID-pandemic.

 “The community has been absolutely amazing with collaboration with not just the City of Prince George but with many other organizations within our own community to help raise awareness and partnership with the PGRDS,” said Miese.

“I think it’s going to be a reminder that this issue has not gone away - the lovely thing is that we are starting to see a change and a shift and it is more of a healing journey and we are coming together to support.”

One of the recommendations in the 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium Report was to have monuments around Highway 16 in every community to raise awareness.

“As a family member it really brings a lot of heartfelt pride,” said Brenda Wilson, whose sister Ramona Wilson went missing in 1994 in Smithers B.C.

On April 9, 1995 Ramona's body was discovered in a wooded area by the Smithers airport and her case is still unsolved.

Wilson said the permanent monument in Prince George will be a reminder to families that they are not alone.

“It brings a reminder and an awareness of our loved ones that have been murdered or are still missing and it brings awareness to the community that it’s an ongoing issue that we try and tackle every day,” she added.

“For many of the family members, when they are feeling down, and they are going through that process of grief they can see that and can come there and feel a lot closer to their loved ones and to know there is support out there.”

Wilson works as the Highway of Tears co-ordinator, a position hosted by Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS), and has spent her career raising awareness for the murdered and missing along the 724 kilometre length of highway 16 – now commonly referred to as the Highway of Tears. 

“She helps the families and helps everyone around here to get their families back in order after such an event happens,” said Deidra Dominic, Wilson's daughter.

“I have watched this my entire life, since I was eight, and saw my mom be the voice. She was the voice of my Auntie when she went missing and she was the only one that brought awareness to the community because we didn’t get help when that happened.”

Dominic said having a permanent structure will mean the world to her because it will cause everyone who drives by to stop and ask questions.

“The more and more we do any event or anything that involved Red Dresses it brings more awareness and to be able to have a permanent structure it is absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to see it,” said Dominic.

“It will help a lot just to know the families are getting that much support in this city and for the community to actually put something up like that. You will never be able to completely heal over losing a family member, especially in such a horrible way but it does help.”

Teddy Antoine, who is a member of PGRDS, said it’s important for everyone in society to educate themselves on MMIWG in Canada.

“For centuries our men have been protecting our community, our families, and when we support the Red Dress Society it gives us that opportunity and feeling of being welcome and supportive and more and more men are getting involved and it is what is needed,” said Antoine.

“It is family-based and we need that awareness that men boys, women and children are going missing and it’s about that family atmosphere and safety.”

Antoine added that having a permanent structure located on the highway will help families who’ve lost loved ones feel accepted.

“It shows that someone remembers. The community remembers, the town remembers those families, and that brings a feeling of joining together and recognizing that their loved ones are not forgotten.”

A walk commemorating MMIWG will take place also take place today at 3 p.m. beginning at the Prince George RCMP station and culminating at Cotton Wood Island Park.