Today, May 5, is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). To honour the MMIWG, we wanted to write about why this day is important and how you can help if you want to support affected families and communities.
What is Red Dress Day?
Red Dress Day was created to honour missing and murdered Indigenous mothers, daughters, aunties, sisters, grandmothers, nieces and cousins. It’s a day to honour those lost and support the community they’ve left behind. Over 1,000 Indigenous women and girls have lost their lives and to spread awareness, Canadians are encouraged to wear red or hang a red dress.
What does hanging a red dress mean?
Many Canadians hang a red dress to honour missing or murdered Indigenous women across Canada. The tradition was born out of Metis artist Jaime Black’s REDress Project which has been iterated across Canada and the United States. By displaying empty red dresses in open spaces, Black wanted to bring attention to MMIWG including the violence women are experiencing but also their presence and power, as she explained in an interview.
The Ontario Native Women’s Association iterated on the red dress by creating a Grandmother Earth Dress, which is a traditional red jingle dress. The 365 jingles symbolize the justice and safety that all Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people should get year-round.
Why are the dresses red?
In Indigenous culture, red is the only colour spirits can see, so by hanging red dresses in honour of MMIWG, it’s a way of reuniting spirits with their loved ones. The red dress has quickly become the symbol for MMIWG.
How can I support MMIWG?
There’s a lot you can do to support MMIWG in your community. While wearing red is an excellent way to show your respect and raise awareness, educating yourself on these issues is the most powerful thing you can do.
Here are some resources for you to learn more and donate if you’re able:
- Learn more about the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Learn more about the No More Stolen Sisters movement.
- Donate furniture, household goods or toys to Indigenous Women’s Healing Centre.
Donate to the Native Women’s Association of Canada.