It was Red Dress Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). This really gets to me. I watched the women wearing red dancing. It was so powerful.
My aunt is one-half Cherokee on her mother’s side and one-half Osage on her father’s side. So even though I’m not Indigenous, my heart is there.
May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and MurderedIndigenous Women and Girls. This day was declared on May 5, 2017, in a Senate Resolution from Montana. However, this is not a new issue.
Grassroots efforts of First Nations women and families in Canada first compelled the Canadian government to initiate a national inquiry in December 2015. Similar groups were doing the same thing in the States.
Sheila North Wilson, former Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., helped propel local and regional activism to a transnational scale by creating the hashtag #MMIW on social media.
This actually coincides with “Red Dress Day”.
The Significance of Red
Red is the official color of the MMIW campaign. For many tribes, red is the color the spirits see. This is spiritually significant. It is hoped that by wearing red, we can call back the missing spirits so that they can be laid to rest.
- Indigenous Women & girls are murdered 10x higher than all other ethnicities.
- Murder is the 3rd leading cause of death for Indigenous Women (Centers for Disease Control)
- More than 4 out of 5 Indigenous Women in the States have experienced violence (84.3%) (National Institute of Justice Report)
- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) acknowledged more than 1,200 MMIW between 1980 and 2012. However, Indigenous women’s groups document the number of MMIW to be greater than 4,000.
- Statistics Canada documents that Indigenous women 15 years and older were 3.t times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women.
No More Stolen Sisters
There are things we can do to help make a difference.
- Download the “No More Stolen Sisters” campaign guide
- Get involved: Honour Stolen Sisters on October 4th, another important date.
- Write a letter: Call on Canada to provide a comprehensive response to the National Inquiry’s final report now.
- Write a letter: Call on Canada to support shelters and social programs for Indigenous women escaping violence.
- Donate to Amnesty International. https://ammnesty.ca