CALGARY (CityNews) — A man was captured ripping red ribbons off the Centre Street Bridge, a symbol of loved ones for the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The young girl who confronted him – says it was a racist attack on Indigenous people.
“He’s like ‘I’m taking this off, your guys’ culture is Satanic, I don’t like it.’ He kept taking the ribbons off and I kept telling him nicely. Right. And he’s just like screaming at us and he almost hit us too.”
Teenager Carmella, who CityNews has agreed not to identify, was heading to an event on Wednesday, National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, when she saw the man ripping red ribbons off the bridge. She ran to others for help.
Activists say the words have a traumatic background.
“In residential school, our traditional spiritual ways and values were considered the devil’s work, and we were told we were heathens and we were outlawed. It was against the law for us to practice our faith and ceremonies,” said advocate Deb Green.
“In front of my own house, I was given two dresses by a family. And they were in honour of their daughters. And just to support the movement as well,” said Yvonne Henderson with the Bear Clan Patrol Calgary. “The family asked for them to be returned and somebody ripped them off, I have them on my surveillance camera.”
Community members say their activism is being targeted and ribbons and dresses were taken and vandalized across the city.
“I spoke directly with the Calgary police and they had told me they were directing the city not to take them down, so we know it was a member of the community,” said Indigenous advocate Michelle Robinson.
“It happens all of the time, as Deb is saying, these blue ribbons have been up for five months and no one has touched them. So, it’s incredibly frustrating that you cannot even have red ribbons up to represent your own family members,” said Taylor McNallie, the co-founder of Inclusive Canada.
“Doing the events are very traumatic for us and hard on our soul, then on top of it know that we’re experiencing so much violence, our organization is getting a lot of trolls right now actually,” said Robinson.
The teenager that shared the video, says she went out for a cause that day but she also wanted people to raise awareness about the everyday racism Indigenous people face.
“My auntie went missing one time and it was really scary … it made me really sad, the fact that he had to act like that too.”