May 5 marked Red Dress Day. A day where hearts hang heavy as red dresses drape with honour, and pride throughout numerous communities across the nation to remember and raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and Girls (MMIWG) who were taken too soon, and lost to the hands of violence.
A gathering was held at the Kwakiutl First Nation’s Gukwdzi (Big House) to remember, educate, and raise awareness for all the women, girls, men, boys, and two-spirited that have gone missing. With over 200 people coming out to show their support, most of whom were wearing red, the event opened around 1:30 p.m. with introductory speeches and then cultural songs and dances.
Everyone that came out for the gathering was invited to stay for food, performances, and closing remarks and prayers.
Red Dress Day, also known as the Red Dress Campaign, sparked from the REDress Project which was first conceived on May 5, 2010 in Winnipeg, Manitoba through the inspired work of Métis artist Jamie Black. When Black was told by one of her Indigenous friends that red is the only colour spirits can see, and that is actually a callback for spirits to be among us again, a red dress became the catalyst for her display at the University of Winnipeg. It featured many hung empty to honour and symbolize all Indigenous women and girls lost to violence.
The annually recognized Red Dress Day draws attention to more than 1,000 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.
The country continues to take steps towards truth and reconciliation. It was earlier this week on May 2, that the House of Commons adopted a motion to declare ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people a national emergency.