VANCOUVER -- Dozens of people painted red handprints on their faces and lined up along Highway 1 on Vancouver Island on Saturday to honour the memory of women, children and men who have been murdered or gone missing from the Cowichan Valley and across Canada.

More than 50 people of all ages took part in the "stand in" along the highway in Duncan, which organizers say was intended as an observance of the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which is May 5.

Co-organizer Jeff Leggat said many participants wore masks and the group spread out to maintain a safe physical distance and avoid the potential spread of COVID-19.

"We held signs reminding people that there are still many, many missing - and there have been many murdered - women, men and children across this nation which haven't been investigated or haven't had justice brought to them, yet," Leggat said.

He said participants could see drivers reading and reacting to their signs, and showing their support.

"The response was fantastic, there were so many cars giving us thumbs up, honks, lots of support," he said.