The National Day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People

May 5 is the National Day of Awareness and Action for Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People

Remember them

May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+, sometimes referred to as Red Dress Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people across Canada.

According to the RCMP, more than 1000 Indigenous women and girls were killed or went missing between 1980 and 2012. However, this may underestimate the true number, with organizations like the Native Women’s Association stating that the number is closer to 4000 (Source: link to article Canada releases plan on missing […], Ellsworth). Despite gaps in data, Statistics Canada estimates that Indigenous women are six times more likely to be killed than non-Indigenous women (Source: link to article Regina business joins forces [...], Sciarpelletti).

This is a crisis and a critical issue in our country that we must acknowledge and fight.

Why a Red Dress?

The Red Dress is used as a visual symbol to represent the disproportionate and violent acts towards Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people and was inspired by the REDress Project by Jaime Black. Black’s installation art piece, started in 2010, is comprised of hundreds of red dresses being hung in public spaces in North America to serve as a visual reminder of the women who are missing or murdered. The artist shares that the instillation aims to “draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence.” (Source: link to website, Black).

Black chose the colour red after a conversation with an Indigenous friend, who told her red is the only colour the spirits can see. "So (red) is really a calling back of the spirits of these women and allowing them a chance to be among us and have their voices heard through their family members and community". (Source: link to article Red dresses seek to draw attention [..], Suen)

Other movements

The REDress project is just one of many movements, projects and actions that have been taken throughout the years to bring attention to this national crisis. The following list of links reflects just some of the work that has been done:

What can you do?

Inform yourself

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is one of the many legacies of the Indian Residential schools highlighted in the Not Just Another Day Off exhibit located in the Murray Library. The exhibit features a red dress with an explanation of the REDress project by artist Jaime Black. Items included in the exhibit include Finding Dawn, a documentary focusing on BC’s Highway of Tears, as well as multiple books that shed light on historic and ongoing violence against Indigenous women and girls. A listing of the educational materials used in the exhibit can be found on the exhibit's website (link to exhibit website) as a PDF file (link to exhibit pdf file). A resource guide is also available for individuals to learn more (link to resources guide).

Additional information sources:

Keep it visible

Bring attention to this matter by hanging a red dress in your house, window or space, or wear a Red Dress pin.

Make your own Red Dress pin

Support where and when you can

Support current movements to bring awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. These are just a few:

Remember their names, their faces and their stories

The CBC has created a Case Explorer to track missing and murdered Indigenous women. 
Please be aware that this page and Case Explorer includes images, names and stories of these individuals.

Safe Passage is a project developed by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) to help individuals learn more about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada.

Demand change and accountability

Since the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls closed in 2019, the Government of Canada has been tasked with creating a National Action Plan to address this crisis, yet very little work has been done. (Source: link to website, Native Women’s Association of Canada)

Please contact your city council, MLAs, MPs, and other political leaders to ask what they have done and what they will do, and to demand they take action now.