May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls. It is widely recognized as Red Dress Day but officially known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit people (MMIWG2S). This is a day for us to recognize, honour and raise awareness about the lives of Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people that were lost to violence.
The movement began in 2011 with an art installation called the REDress Project by Jamie Black, a Métis artist from Winnipeg. Black used the red dresses to symbolize “both the violence that women are experiencing, but also the presence and power of Indigenous women.” Since then, red dresses have become a powerful symbol for the movement and a way to commemorate the women, girls and Two Spirit people who have gone missing or have been murdered.
This day is an opportunity for all of us to reflect, both privately and publicly, on our commitment to creating a safer society for indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people, who are statistically and historically the most in danger of violence and harm than any other population in Canada.
On this day we reflect on ways in which we can support, see and hear those affected by MMWIG2S+. In order to educate ourselves and our community at large, we invite you to read the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ final report, Reclaiming Power and Place, and it’s 231 Calls for Justice to raise awareness, broaden your understanding, and learn how to take further action.
We also invite you to wear red to raise awareness about this important issue among your community, and to hang a red dress in your window or your yard.
If you would like to show your solidarity through social media, use hashtags such as: #MMIWG2S, #RedDressDay, #WhyWeWearRed, #EndTheViolence, #NotForgotten and #NoMoreStolenSisters.
You can also make a donation to an Indigenous organization which works with Indigenous Women, girls and Two Spirit people such as the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre or Pacific Association of First Nations Women(PAFNW).
The Alliance recognizes that this day can be triggering for those affected by MMWIG2S+ loss. The MMWIG2S+ free crisis line is 1-844-413-6649, and it operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Below is a short list of some associations and organizations which you can support and learn from on this important issue, as well as some educational videos:
We invite you to take the time to self-educate and learn about our shared history of colonization and how it continues today.
[Hero image credit: CHF BC]