The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) has announced the launch of a newly updated declaration in honour of National Red Dress Day to advocate the need for more protections for First Nations People against violence in all forms.
May 5 is recognized as the day to bring awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People, who face a disproportionate amount of violence in Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole. The FSIN Women’s Commission is asking for the implementation of 231 Calls to Action found in the Final Report published in 2019 by the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
“Our First Nations Women and Girls must be protected from the unacceptable levels of violence experienced in Canadian society and our communities,” Chief Bobby Cameron said. “The time has come to acknowledge the truths and findings in The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls and to strive to create safer communities for all, through education and awareness.”
Several women in leadership positions from different First Nations communities across the province were in attendance of a press conference held earlier today by the FSIN. They spoke out in solidarity of the men, women, and children who were taken from their families too soon through acts of violence.
“When we lose a loved one to violence, it impacts every family. We all feel the loss of a mother, sister, daughter, cousin, friend,” said One Arrow First Nations Chief Tricia Sutherland.
FSIN Vice Chief Aly Bear stated the Government’s failure to act has hindered justice for the families of the murdered and missing. Proper investigations are not conducted by authorities, resulting in the loss of a vulnerable person that could have potentially been saved.
Bear demanded to know why there has been no Amber Alert issued for missing 5-year-old Frank Young, who was last seen at his home on the Red Earth Cree Nation on April 19th. RCMP previously reported that Young’s disappearance did not fit the criteria for an Amber Alert, although Bear stated that it met three out of four criteria needed. She suggested the implementation of a separate Amber Alert system designed for First Nations People.
“We need our society, institutions, and workplaces to be safe spaces where we no longer live in fear for ourselves and our family’s safety daily,” Bear said. “We need to have these standards upheld so we are given the respect and dignity owed to put an end to the ongoing violence inflicted daily.”
Family members were seen holding photos during the conference of those taken by acts of violence. Many hoped to put faces to the missing persons as a reality check for society. The mothers of several murdered Indigenous women and girls cried while sharing their stories with the crowd. The grief was heavy, and felt by all in attendance.
The Red Dress is a symbolic and powerful reminder of the trauma and loss that has plagued many First Nations families. An art installation by Metis artist Jaime Black inspired the grassroots movement across North America, her project included placing 600 red dresses in public spaces across Canada as a reminder of the staggering amount of Indigenous women who are no longer with us.