Every year on May 5th, people observe Red Dress Day to raise awareness for the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, and people mark the occasion by hanging red dresses on trees, windows, fences, and balconies. The Red Dress is a symbol of honor and also serves as a visual reminder of this crisis.
Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than other women in Canada. According to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' 2019 report, Indigenous women and girls accounted for almost a quarter of female homicide victims between 2001 and 2015, even though they represent only 5 percent of women in Canada. This crisis is severe and demands our attention.
Jaime Black, an artist, launched the first Red Dress Day in 2010, after creating the REDress art installation. The artist continues to publicly display the installation to raise awareness of the crisis. Red dresses have become a symbol of the issue and are used to commemorate Red Dress Day. People can also wear a red dress, display a red dress in public spaces, or put a red light outside their doors to show support.
To commemorate Red Dress Day, people are encouraged to educate themselves by attending seminars, workshops, or reading the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Ceremonies, marches, and vigils are planned across the country, offering people a chance to come together and share their sorrow, anger, grief, and hope for a better future.