The road into Curve Lake First Nation, near Peterborough, Ont., is long and lined with hydro poles, and each is tied with a red ribbon.
The community is encouraging residents to wear red and add red ribbons to their trees or porches for the National Day of Awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on May 5.
The campaign is also in honour of Cileana Marie Taylor, a 22-year-old community member who died in February. In September 2020, Taylor was the victim of an assault that left her in a coma for several months with a severe brain injury.
A 23-year-old man has been charged with aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm. The community is calling for the charges to be upgraded to at least manslaughter.
“I watched her grow up,” said David Taylor, a relative of Cileana Taylor.
“I hung out with her across the road and down at the park. She was like a little sister to me. We as a community need to pull together for this.”
When he heard about the campaign, he said he struggled to find a red ribbon to tie on his property but found some red fabric and cut it into the shape of a dress to display on his front yard.
“The red ribbon is the perfect reminder to everyone coming in that we’re fed up and something needs to be done,” he said.
Cileana Taylor’s family approved the campaign and her sister Savannah Taylor said it was nice to see community members participating.
Lorenzo Whetung said he knew Cileana Taylor since she was an infant and looked after her when he ran the community’s day care centre.
“I believe in this red ribbon campaign because there’s so many missing and murdered women,” he said.
On the day Taylor died, the community also lost 100-year-old Elder Murray Whetung, Lorenzo’s father.
“I think they were travelling together,” Lorenzo Whetung said.
Curve Lake Chief Emily Whetung said the idea for the red ribbon campaign came from a number of community members who were wondering what they could do to show their support and take action.
“I think everyone in our community is hugely impacted by Cileana’s passing,” she said.
“It’s left a big hole.”
She added that the loss has been made more difficult because the community cannot gather for healing due to the pandemic.
“We’re all just coping with it whatever way that we can.”