REDress Day- Bringing Awareness to MMIWG2S

Red dresses hanging along Highway 17.

Today is REDress Day, also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 spirit people. The REDress awareness campaign started in 2010 by Metis Artist Jamie Black.

The REDress Campaign has been gaining momentum across Turtle Island since it began in 2010, each dress representing an Indigenous woman who has been murdered or is missing.  The Red Dress has become a symbol of the thousands of victims of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The colour red represents spirit in Anishinaabe culture, because red is the only color that spirits can see. People wear red for MMIWG2S so that the souls of those they’ve lost can be with them.

Jamie Black comments in an interview to Toronto Life, “Red is a really powerful colour in Indigenous communities. It’s the colour of life and blood. It’s what connects all of us to each other. It’s a very sacred colour, and it also represents the violence that these women are facing.”

“Those dresses have such a powerful presence. They are a reflection of the power and strength of Indigenous women that have come before us,” comments Black in an interview to Vogue. “When people walk by the red dresses, they can’t [ignore them.]”

Indigenous women make up 16% of all female homicide victims, and 11% of missing women, even though Indigenous people make up 4.3% of the population of Canada.  Indigenous women and girls are five times more likely to experience violence than any other population in Canada, and statistically, this violence often leads to serious harm to the victims.  This is an epidemic that all Canadian’s need to understand.

Kii-Ga-Do-Waak is a local Grandmothers Council that advocates for recognizing human dignity and promoting the well-being of all trafficked persons.  They are holding a virtual Sacred Fire event in honour of #MMIWG2S and their families and communities, May 5th at 11:00 am. Elder Ted Recollet, Grandmother Marly Day, Tracie Louttit, Jess Otehiw, as well as other guest speakers will host a morning of prayer and song.

Wear red May 5th and remember the MMIWG2S who are no longer with us on Earth, but are here in spirit.