May 5th is Red Dress Day

Red Dress Day – the National Day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S) – marks a day of remembrance and awareness for the profound violence experienced by thousands of Indigenous women, gender-diverse people, and their communities. Join the Women’s Centre on May 5th at 11:30am to walk down to the Field of Crosses to honour this day.


Red Dress Day – the National Day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S) – marks a day of remembrance and awareness for the profound violence experienced by thousands of Indigenous women, gender-diverse people, and their communities. This day first began in 2010 as the REDress Project, an art installation by Metis artist Jaime Black, and displayed hanging red dresses as a symbol of those lost to the ongoing violence.

In Canada, Indigenous women are overrepresented across nearly all accounts of violence. Despite only making up 4.3% of the population, Indigenous women make up 16% of female homicide victims and 11% of missing women. Alberta is amongst the highest number of MMIWG2S cases. We know these numbers are likely much higher due to countless systemic and structural barriers including underreporting, inadequate investigations, and dismissal by officials.

What is Colonial Gender-Based Violence?

The disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and gender-diverse people across Canada is not a matter of coincidence. It is a targeted form of colonial gender-based violence. The MMIWG2S crisis is rooted in the ongoing colonial legacy of Canada – a legacy of forced displacement, assimilation, and control over Indigenous peoples and their land. Government policies, such as the Indian Act and the residential school system, specifically targeted Indigenous women and gender-diverse people to disrupt political and family structures, as well as life-giving practices. Under these policies, Indigenous women were denied social, political, and economic power and instead subject to colonial and patriarchal control.

In 2019, The National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released a report titled Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This report was created through public hearings and evidence gathering across the country and shares the truths of more than 2,380 family members, survivors, experts and Knowledge Keepers. The report reveals that the human rights and Indigenous rights abuses committed and condoned by the Canadian state represent genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

As we honour Red Dress Day and remember those who have been lost, we recognize the lifelong learning and action that must be taken in response. There is a collective responsibility that we share in building a world that is safe and just for Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. We encourage you to learn more about MMIWG2S, colonial gender-based violence, and its lasting impacts on our communities.

For more information, consider visiting the following resources below:

If you or someone you know needs immediate mental and emotional wellness support, call The National Inquiry into MMIWG2S Toll-Free Support Phone: 1-844-413-6649

Talynn English – Social Change Coordinator

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