By Leslie Dunnett
In 2006, the Red Friday Ladies began encouraging Canadians to wear red on Fridays, to show their support and pride for Canadian Forces members and their families. Five years later, Red Fridays are recognized in communities all across Canada, with many rallies and events being held in honour of those who serve.
The trend first began in the United States, in 2001, via an email which suggested civilians wear red every Friday to show support for deployed soldiers. However, it did not catch on, mainly due to the political implications.
In 2005/2006, the same email began circulating in Canada, but still carried the same political and negative tone. Two Canadian women, Karen Boire and Lisa Miller, decided to take it upon themselves to re-write the email, give it a friendlier and “Canadian” message, and sent it out to the media.
Their message was patriotic, non-political, and shared a positive message about supporting all the men, women and families of the Canadian Forces, whether they are at home or abroad. Thanks to their efforts, it led to the first and largest rally of support, which was held on Parliament Hill in 2006, seven months later. Approximately 20,000 people showed up, wearing red and waving flags and signs to demonstrate their respect and support for our Canadian Forces.
Since 2006, Red Fridays have been promoted in many communities across Canada. “Starting Red Fridays in your own community starts simply by wearing red,” says Lisa Miller. “We encourage people to talk to businesses or organizations within their own community about hosting events with a red or Support the Troops theme.” Supporters can also take advantage of sporting events dedicated to military families by encouraging spectators to wear red.
On May 6, 2011, The Red Friday Ladies will be hosting a rally in Petawawa in celebration of five years of Red Fridays. Supportive groups from Ottawa, Toronto, Geulph, Petrolia, and Sarnia will be participating in the event. The rally offers a chance for people to meet and socialize with the people of Petawawa, the Canadian Forces troops, their families and many more. And, of course, wear red.
The rally will also be playing host to several other events. The day will start with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Petawawa Legion. Breakfast will be served from 6:30am till 10 am and will cost $5 for adults and $3 for children, plus the A Channel Ottawa Morning Show will be broadcasting live at the legion. The legion will also have a fundraising BBQ from 11am till 2pm.
Participants will be able to cheer on the Commissionaires Ottawa “Run for Military Families” runners, and will have the opportunity to make donations. And, with the help of the Petawawa Military Family Centre, a “Kids Zone” will be set up as well as photo opportunities with Juno, the Army Mascot.
Attendees will have the chance to have a Red Friday Lady Kiss of Appreciation photo taken, with all donations going towards Stewie’s Angels Camp, a summer camp for children of fallen soldiers. As well, Pennies for Patriotism will be here from Sarnia, Ontario to participate and collect pennies.
There will also be several groups and home-based businesses there to offer information and show their support for the military community. Finally, the Red Friday Ladies are thrilled to present Brea Lawrenson, singer/songwriter, who will be performing, as well as other entertainers,
In addition to the Five Year Anniversary Rally, the Red Friday Ladies will also be presenting the “Best Supporting” Awards. To enter, people need only to submit an email to [email protected] In one paragraph, tell them how and why you or your nominee supports the troops.
There are a variety of categories, everything from Best Supporting Pet to Best Supporter in the Making. Just make sure to include your name and the town/city you live in (as some of the prizes may not be suitable for those from out of town). To qualify for prizes, you must be in attendance at the rally.
The rally will take place at the Petawawa Legion, 3583 Petawawa Blvd, Petawawa, Ont. The event begins at 11:00am, with the main program running from 12:00-2:00pm. For further information, please contact The Red Fridays Ladies at [email protected] or [email protected] You can also visit their Facebook page, “The Red Friday Ladies.”