On May 5th we commemorate and honour the lives of over 1,000 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada.
Red Dress Day, also known as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People brings awareness to the gendered, racialized violence committed against Indigenous women and girls.
In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are five times more likely to experience violence than any other population and this violence tends to result in more serious harm, according to the Assembly of First Nations. Many people in Canada, including Indigenous leaders, have declared this a national state of emergency.
Why a red dress?
Red Dress Day started with Jamie Black, a Métis artist, who created the REDress Project installation, as a “visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us”. The project has since grown and has been recreated throughout Canada and the United States.
“The REDress Project focuses around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. It is an installation art project based on an aesthetic response to this critical national issue.”
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
On September 1st 2015, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has began looking into and reporting on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including sexual violence, child abuse, domestic violence, bullying and harassment, suicide, and self-harm.
In June 2019 the inquiry published their final report, Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, whos findings and conclusions can be used as a guide in how to move forward and build policies in the future.
For more information on the National Inquiry, please visit www.mmiwg-ffada.ca.
How can you raise awareness?
Many protests and marches take place across North America on Red Dress Day, but you can support MMIWG all year round.
Many MMIWG cases are under-reported by media outlets, and there is little to no pressure on local law enforcement to pursue their cases. If you see cases being shared on social media, take the time to reshare it to your followers. You can also call or email those in charge of cases to urge them to push further.
Butterflies in Spirit is an Indigenous lead group that spreads awareness and honor MMIWG through traditional dance. Supporting groups like these is also an important way to help communities begin to heal, the way they want to.
We stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities across Canada, acknowledging the systemic violence that Indigenous women and girls face.
Madisen Gee is a contributing writer at MT Consulting Group.