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MMIWG ribbons tied to trees again in Calgary after being thrown in trash

Click to play video: 'Indigenous community, Field of Crosses join up to remember MMIWG in Calgary' Indigenous community, Field of Crosses join up to remember MMIWG in Calgary
Less than a week after red ribbons honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were found in a trash bin, members from the Indigenous community and the Field of Crosses came together Saturday afternoon to reinstall the ribbons in Calgary. Matthew Conrod reports – Oct 30, 2021

After ribbons honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were thrown in the garbage earlier this week, a ceremony was held in Calgary on Saturday to put up new ones on trees along Memorial Drive.

Read more: MMIWG ribbons thrown in trash in park home to Calgary’s Field of Crosses

People found the ribbons in a trash bin on Tuesday. They were cleared from an area that is now being used as the Field of Crosses, which pays tribute to veterans leading up to Remembrance Day.

“In the Indigenous community, there was a huge reaction. There were a lot of triggers, trauma and sadness because it’s like somebody discarded us like we were less than valuable and threw us in the garbage,” said advocate Deborah Green on Saturday.

Ribbons are sacred

They are sacred prayer ribbons that have been up since May, she said, and it is important for people to see them and acknowledge victims’ spirits.

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“Red ribbons are symbolic of the movement for MMIW as well as the spirits of our loved ones that are gone on the other side are in those ribbons, so we pray and we have a ceremony acknowledging and honouring the spirits of our loved ones in those ribbons, just like the crosses,” Green said.

People hung up MMIWG ribbons in Calgary on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Global News

Advocate Yvonne Henderson said the ribbons remind “people that our women matter. Our family members that have fallen before us, they matter.” There is a name and life behind each ribbon.

“Truth and reconciliation does not look like taking something of Indigenous Peoples and just throwing it away in the garbage, and I hope people, in general, get a better understanding,” she said.

“We would never disrespect headstones. Veterans and these people who gave their lives have an unspoken respect. We would never disrespect that, and we just ask for the same.”

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Click to play video: 'MMIWG ribbons thrown in trash in park home to Calgary’s Field of Crosses' MMIWG ribbons thrown in trash in park home to Calgary’s Field of Crosses
MMIWG ribbons thrown in trash in park home to Calgary’s Field of Crosses – Oct 27, 2021

Reconciliation going forward

After the ribbon removal incident, Green is happy to report that her group has established a good relationship with the city and Susan Schalin, president of the Field of Crosses.

Read more: Pope Francis to visit Canada for Indigenous reconciliation, Vatican says

“I’m really honoured that Susan, who is the president, acknowledged and took accountability that potentially some of her volunteers may have done this inadvertently, not knowing, and that’s acceptable,” she said.

“We just wanted accountability, awareness and an apology, and Susan has given us that, and then moving forward that we’re going to work with the city so we can also have a permit here for our ribbons.”

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Read more: Alberta men begin walk to Ottawa to honour missing, murdered Indigenous women and girls

Green said the city and Field of Crosses assured her group that the ribbons won’t be touched.

“We’re looking forward to having some reconciliation talks after Nov. 11th so that we can share this space,” she said.

Read more: MMIWG plan calls for public education campaign, funding for survivors

Kent Griffiths, communications and military liaison representative for the Field of Crosses, said the organization is happy to see the ribbons back up “where they belong.”

“We’re very supportive of the whole concept and really feel bad that they got taken down in the first place, so it’s nice to see that they’re back up. We will do our best to make sure that nobody touches them,” he said.

“It is a fantastic cause because it’s something that we really need to focus on.”

Read more: Walk honours woman who was fatally stabbed in Calgary 14 years ago

Green said they chose the location because a victim’s body parts were found on a nearby hill.

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“The MMIW national inquiry, it’s titled Reclaiming Power and Place, so we come here to do that,” she said.

“We reclaim our power as valuable Indigenous people and that we’re not less than, and we reclaim the place in honour of that person that was found here.”

Read more: Calgary honours missing and murdered Indigenous people

The location couldn’t be a better place to remember MMIWG, Griffiths said.

“The Field of Crosses is all about remembering people so that they won’t be forgotten and learning from our past,” he said.

“Those veterans laying down their lives led to the freedom of speech that allows us to all be aware of these issues. It’s a place of memory and a place of shared memory. Just for a week out of the year, we’re thinking about our veterans, but those red ribbons are going to be on the trees all year long to help perpetuate those memories as well.”

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