03/11/2015 04:38 EDT | Updated 05/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Red dresses to bring awareness to issue of missing, murdered aboriginal women

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - Organizers of a Saskatchewan campaign are using red dresses to bring awareness to missing and murdered aboriginal woman.

The dresses are being hung in the city of Prince Albert and along the road to the northern community of La Ronge.

Organizer Marie Genereaux (JEHN'-ur-oh) says the dresses represent, in her words, “our lost sisters.”

She says the issue hits her particularly hard because she, too, is aboriginal.

Elder Julie Pitzel says a lot of women are concerned about missing and murdered indigenous women and express it in different ways.

The RCMP released a report last year that said almost 1,200 aboriginal women were murdered or disappeared in Canada between 1980 and 2012.

“One of the things I have deep feelings about is murdered women, what happens to them, how they’re hurt, how they’re not part of their families anymore, their children,” Pitzel said.

Pitzel discussed the issue and the red dress campaign with Prince Albert police Chief Troy Cooper.

“We know that a lot of people in this community have lost loved ones recently and we have to think about all of those young women who have lost their lives,” she said.

One of the red dresses is being hung outside the police station.

“We have a huge aboriginal population here, so just by living in (Prince Albert) it’s important to us ... Some of us are connected personally to issues, some of us are connected through our employment and some through our culture,” Cooper said.

“To be born with a risk factor just simply because you’re aboriginal and because you’re a female ... that’s unacceptable,” he said. “Every time we have an opportunity to remind people of that, to bring that conversation to the forefront we have to take that opportunity.”