Honour the memory of murdered and missing women

Red Dress Day
Posted on 05/03/2024
red dress

Staff and students will be doing their part on Monday to honour the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Also known as Red Dress Day, May 5 in Canada is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day, but because it falls on a Sunday, it will be acknowledged in WECDSB schools and offices on Monday, May 6.

“Honouring Red Dress Day is just one way we can ensure our schools are welcoming environments for all our students,” said Superintendent LeeAnn Poisson. “Our Catholic school board is committed to sharing Indigenous stories and respecting the customs and cultures of Indigenous families every day of the year. Wearing red and other gestures of support are a way to honour the memory of those missing or murdered, a healing step for the families who have lost them, as well as a step toward truth and reconciliation.”

In Canada, the number of Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and gender diverse people who have gone missing or murdered is estimated to exceed 4,000 (2017). 

Staff and students are encouraged to wear red, and a display with information and resources will be set up in the entryway of the Catholic Education Centre, the school board’s administrative offices. Some schools will create red dress displays or wrap red ribbons around trees, while learning more about what inspired Métis artist Jaime Black to launch the red dress movement, where red dresses are hung from windows and trees to represent the pain and loss felt by loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada.

“We say the spirits that have passed see bright colours the best, red in particular,” Lori Campbell, a Métis-Cree leader at University of Regina said in 2023. “So hanging the red dresses helps lost spirits find their way home to their loved ones.” 

All staff are encouraged to educate themselves about MMIWG and the Calls to Justice in the 2021 National Action Plan. Those looking to learn more about Red Dress Day can read Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

"By raising awareness, promoting dialogue, empowering people to act and reinforcing the fact that this is an issue that should concern all Canadians, we can begin to take ownership of the issue, to help find a solution, and begin to create the necessary change,” Poisson said.

Should you require support:

MMIWG Support Line: 1-844-413-6649

Talk for Healing 24/7 Indigenous Women's Helpline: 1-855-554-4325

Women's Helpline: free from your Bell, Rogers, Fido or Telus cell: #7233

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