Red Dress Day - May 5th, 2023
May 5th is Red Dress Day, a day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People. Originally starting as the REDdress art installation by Métis artist Jaime Black, Red Dress Day became a grassroots movement across North America. The project was made up of 600 community-donated red dresses, which were later placed in public spaces throughout Winnipeg and across Canada.
The artist chose the colour red after speaking with an Indigenous friend who told her that is the only colour spirits can see. Red dresses are used to call the spirits of missing and murdered women and girls back to their loved ones. The goal was to speak to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Indigenous women and to evoke a presence by marking absence.
As part of the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 231 Calls to Justice were issued, with calls 11.1 & 11.2 specifically being made to educators:
11.1 We call upon all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions and education authorities to educate and provide awareness to the public about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, and about the issues and root causes of violence they experience. All curriculum development and programming should be done in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, especially Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Such education and awareness must include historical and current truths about the genocide against Indigenous Peoples through state laws, policies, and colonial practices. It should include, but not be limited to, teaching Indigenous history, law, and practices from Indigenous perspectives and the use of Their Voices Will Guide Us with children and youth.
11.2 We call upon all educational service providers to develop and implement awareness and education programs for Indigenous children and youth on the issue of grooming for exploitation and sexual exploitation.
On this Red Dress Day we encourage members to access & utilize 'Their Voices Will Guide Us' as part of this call.