The families of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls in Saskatchewan marked Red Dress Day, by honouring their loved ones, urging for more supports in preventing violence against women and for affected loved ones.

Krista Kenny was 16, when she was murdered in Prince Albert in May 2009. The teen, who was a mother to a six-month-old daughter, was to go to the movies with her friends that night, instead went to a local park where others would join her.

“She was still going to school. She wanted to become a teacher she had tons of friends she was kind, she was loving, she helped out so many people,” said her mother Loretta Henderson. “Even though it was 13 years ago, it’s still so hard.”

Henderson is now raising her granddaughter and speaks fondly of Krista each day. “There needs to be more awareness of missing and murdered women from all over, especially the North. It’s harder for them to get the help that they need,” explained Henderson.

Cody Halkett was sentenced in 2010 to life in prison for manslaughter in Krista’s death.

For Gwenda Yuzicappi, not knowing where her daughter Amber Redman was for nearly three years was very difficult. Redman of the Standing Buffalo First Nation was last seen in Fort Qu’Appelle in July 2005.

“Her remains were located two years and 10 months, not knowing where your daughter is, it’s a lot of pain. It’s a lot of emotion, depression and suicide,” Yuzicappi said. “As a mother I went through so many emotions, it was very, very hard, difficult, but what I found strength in was my culture. Praying and asking for that strength, that pettiness, that humbleness as a mother, that emptiness of not knowing where your loved one is. I would not wish that on anyone at all.”

Redman’s remains were discovered on the Little Black Bear First Nation, with Albert Patrick Bellegarde being sentenced in 2009 to life in prison for second-degree murder.

“I tell you, we need this to stop. I come here as a mother. I come here to speak for my daughter. I am my daughter’s voice and I will continue to be her voice,” Yuzicappi said.

One of the most puzzling disappearances in Regina history, which continues to stump investigators is the whereabouts of Tamra Keepness.

July 5, will mark the 16th anniversary of when Tamra of the White Bear First Nation went missing. Each summer, the family, community and police gather in Pepsi Park to continue to raise awareness for Tamra.

“She was just five-years-old when she disappeared. And it’s something that you’ll never forget. It stays with you. Everyday, there’s something that comes up that reminds you that this little person was never found. Are we ever going to find her,” Joyce Keepness, Tamra’s grandmother asked.

While Regina Police state they are actively following up on all new tips and leads, there is very little information on the disappearance.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations tabled a five-article approach to honouring Indigenous women and girls, in hoping to end all forms of violence First Nations People face daily. That declaration was debated Thursday by lawmakers in the Legislature.

“I think it’s important to remember that while we remember these individuals today, we need to be remembering them each and every day of the year,” said Justice Minister Gordon Wyant. “We’re committed to addressing this issue to end violence against individuals in this province, particularly Indigenous women and girls.”

NDP MLA Betty Nippi-Albright explained there are actions the province can adopt to make change. “The call upon all levels of government to adopt principles of change, including a focus on substantial equality and human and indigenous rights are a decolonization approach, an indigenous led solutions, recognizing distinction, cultural safety, and adoption of a trauma informed approach,” explained Nippi-Albright.

Red Dress Day, which started in 2010, encourages people to wear a red dress or display it, as it acts a symbol to raise awareness to the violence Indigenous women face daily.

(Photo of Tamra Keepness)