Red Dress Day actions everyone can take

May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Gender-diverse folks in the United States, and the day in what’s commonly call Canada is recognized on October 4. This day is also known as Red Dress Day (#reddressday). Members of the Indigenous Women’s Council has shared that they are recognizing both dates this year, and held an event in Vancouver on May 5 that was live and live-streamed from Vancouver’s City Hall.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs released a statement on May 5: Unbroken and Unsilenced: UBCIC Demands Overdue Justice on National Day of Awareness for MMIWG. It calls for “a robust National Action Plan that includes full implementation of Bill S-3 to reform … destructive policies, and for the voices of our Indigenous women to be at the heart of the National Action Plan process. Canada must do better if it means to reconcile with its colonial practices, past and present. On this important but painful day of awareness and community healing, we must not forget the red dresses that silently sway around schools, parks, memorials, institutions, and pipelines.” Read complete statement.

Lorraine Whitman, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, also released a statement that President of Native Women’s Association of Canada Marks Another Red Dress Day Without National Plan to Address Violence. “We stand in unity with those who have lost loved ones to this tragedy. We grieve for all of those women, girls, and gender-diverse people whose lives have tragically been cut short. And we embrace those who are left behind to mourn.” Eleven years after the first recognition of Red Dress Day, “The government has produced no national action plan to stop the violence. … Governments must take action. They have a legal and a moral obligation to protect us.” Read complete statement.

Red Dress Day was noted in mainstream media (Saanich News published Red Dress Day honours Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous people), but social media came into the spotlight when Instagram deleted thousands of stories and silenced activists. While Instagram has since issued an apology, advocates say that the “Apology didn’t address harm caused by erasure of posts on day meant to raise awareness.”

To keep up action for justice for Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse folks, APTN National News shared Beyond Red Dress Day: Seven calls to action for Indigenous allies. Author Brielle Morgan writes, “Non-Indigenous people have a role to play in the fight for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people in this country.” These actions include listening to Indigenous people and showing up for them, speaking up to racism and white privilege, challenging power structures that maintain the racist colonial-based status quo. It’s a great read.