The Sisters in Spirit monument on the riverbank in Prince Albert saw a number of people gathered for a brief ceremony Friday morning in honour of Red Dress Day.
May 5 marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S). Every year on the fifth day of May, red dresses are hung on display to honour the victims, survivors, and those impacted by the ongoing crisis of gender-based and racialized violence faced by Canada’s Indigenous population.
Red Dress Day was inspired by Winnipeg artist Jaime Black’s The REDress Project, an art installation in which red dresses were hung in public spaces around North America as a visual reminder of the absent women who will never have the chance to wear them.
In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) released a report stating that a total of 1,181 Indigenous women and girls were killed or went missing in Canada between 1980 and 2012, based on incidents reported to all police jurisdictions across Canada.
However, research conducted by the Native Women’s Association of Canada estimated that number is actually closer to 4,000.
Just before Red Dress Day on May 4, the House of Commons passed a motion tabled by NDP critic for women and gender equity, Leah Gazan, declaring the crisis of MMIWG2S a national emergency.