May 5 marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit Peoples+ (MMIWG2S+) in Canada. It coincides with Red Dress Day.
Red Dress Day began in 2010 as art installation called The REDress Project by Jaime Black, a multidisciplinary artist of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish descent. The project has been installed in public spaces throughout Canada and the United States, with red dresses acting as a visual reminder of the staggering number of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people who are no longer with us, and a way to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of these violent crimes.
Violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit+ Peoples in Canada today must be understood within the framework of Canada as a settler colonial state. The longstanding impacts of residential schools, the pass system, the 60s scoop, and ongoing acts of colonization such as resource theft and disproportionate underfunding of vital services often result in Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse people having less access to supports, safety, and lives free from violence.
A RCMP report that estimated more than 1,200 Indigenous women and girls had either been murdered or vanished since the 1970s. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) estimates that the number is actually nearer to 4,000 but due to incomplete data, the number is hard to determine.
On Red Dress Day, many show their solidarity by honouring those we have lost and their families, denouncing the ongoing colonial, racialized, and gendered violence being waged against MMIWG2S+ Peoples, and taking action to stop the violence. This may include:
- Reading about the 231 individual Calls for Justice in the Final Report of the National Inquiry;
- Considering how you as an individual and the YMCA as an organization can contribute to the 231 Calls for Justice, including the 8 Calls for Canadians;
- Wearing red on May 5;
- Using a virtual background on May 5 that recognizes Red Dress Day;
- Using hashtags on social media to raise awareness, such as: #MMIWG, #MMIWG2S, #RedDressDay, #WhyWeWearRed, and #NoMoreStolenSisters;
- Hanging a red dress in a visible space; and
- Continuing to learn more and take action (see Additional Resources for Learning and Action below).
If you’d like to learn more and take action to stop the violence, here are some resources:
💻 Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) Resources
🎥 Video: Canada Must End Genocide of Indigenous Women & Girls Now – Pam Palmater
📣 KAIROS Canada – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Advocacy & Action
🔊 KAIROS Canada – Their Voices Will Guide Us: Student and Youth Engagement Guide
💟 Amnesty International – No More Stolen Sisters: What Can I Do?
📚 UBC: Featured Books, Media and Performing Art Expressions on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, & Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S)
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