ay 5th is recognized as the National Day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls (MMIWG), and Two-spirit individuals.
It’s a day to remember those individuals who lost their lives because of gender-based, colonial violence and to understand the grief of the families and communities who lost their members and loved ones.
It’s also known as Red Dress Day as it became an annual event held by the REDress Project in memory of the lives of MMIWG across Canada. It aims to educate people on this crisis and call attention to the disproportionate rate of violence against Indigenous women.
Across Canada, MMIWG is considered a genocide.
CBC reported that there were three deaths of Indigenous women and girls a month from 2016 to 2019, according to different databases. This is despite the government of Canada launching a national investigation into the issue in 2016. Although an inquiry was launched, it did not stop the disturbing trend of MMIWG.
Over 130 Indigenous women and girls had been reported as victims of a homicide, suspicious death, or having died while in institutional care during this time period. While this is the information from one database, other databases and reports show similar numbers.
An RCMP report that was released in 2014 concluded that there were over 1000 homicides of Indigenous women from 1980 to 2012. However, it was established in the inquiry that this was an undercount of cases.
In June 2019, The Final Report on the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released. The report highlighted 231 calls to justice and is directed at governments, social service providers, industries, and all Canadians.
Key principles of change that were highlighted include efforts for decolonization, Indigenous-led solutions and services, trauma-informed approaches, and more.
Thanks to Indigenous women and families raising their voices about the crisis, the MMIWG movement found footing in Canada around 2015 where there were many grassroots efforts to raise awareness.
It has been gaining momentum ever since and more people are providing their support once they are informed and educated about the matter.
There are many ways you can help spread awareness and demand justice for MMIWG. This can include writing letters and emails to your government representatives, posting informative content on social media, or creating a memorial event for those whose lives were lost.
You can also organize or attend a prayer circle, candle light vigil, or other related events in your city or area. It will develop a sense of strength, togetherness, solidarity, and community. Mention the names of those whose lives were lost and post information about those who are missing so that they may be found and brought to safety.
Another act that is often done is wearing red, or hanging red dresses on trees to commemorate those who are missing, lost, or gone too soon.
At ABM College, we care about our community and the diverse populations that reside in and around it. Everyone should have the freedom to live without being targets for their race, gender, and other demographic aspects.
Lydia Scout, an ABM College student who is Indigenous, shared why awareness for MMIWG is important to her.
“We need to raise awareness for the MMIWG. Being a mother to an Indigenous daughter, and being a daughter, granddaughter, niece to beautiful Indigenous women, is what inspires me to make a stand for all our stolen sacred sisters,” she says.
“We as Niitsitapi’s are exceptionally strong and resilient. The fact that we are still here demonstrates that. It will be our strong roots, bound together in solidarity that will ensure the safety of the next generation!”
ABM College took part in a blessing ceremony that was performed by the members of the Blood Reserve in Alberta at the college campus. This was done to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis and red dresses were hung on the trees to show our solidarity.
As a college, we are open to helping out those of Indigenous backgrounds who are looking for a career change, or getting a better future for themselves through education.
Contact us today to find out how we can help.