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May 5 is Red Dress Day

May 3, 2024

May 5 is Red Dress Day, also known as National Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and 2-Spirit people (MMIWG2S). It honours the lives of those who have gone missing or have been murdered and the experiences of their families and communities. 

Red Dress Day began in 2010 when Métis artist, Jamie Black hung red dresses in public spaces to raise awareness about the ongoing violence against Indigenous women and girls across the country.

After the National Inquiry into MMIWG2S, the inquiry released its final report that included 231 Calls for Justice. These calls provide a roadmap for governments, institutions, social service providers, industries and all Canadians that will help end this ongoing genocide.

There are specific Calls for Justice for educators (11.1 & 11.2), as well as 8 Calls for Justice for all Canadians. Some of these calls are as follows: 

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

11.1 Cont’d…and about the issues and root causes of violence they experience.

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. 

15.1 Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 

15.2 Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ history, cultures, pride and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities both historically & today.

15.3 Develop knowledge and read the Final Report. Listen to the truths shared, and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people today

15.4 Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate. 

15.5 Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings. 

The student guide, Their Voices Will Guide Us was developed to support educators to teach about the value of Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people in their classroom and towards decolonizing their pedagogies and curricula. 

Lastly, all Canadians can continue their learning and commitment to action by reading the 231 Calls for Justice in Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

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