May 5 is Red Dress Day, the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ (Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual plus) people. This event was originally held on May 5, 2010 and continues annually.
The day was was borne out of the ongoing art project called The REDress Project by Jaime Black, a Métis multidisciplinary artist based in Winnipeg. The red dresses act as a visual reminder of the more than 1,000 Indigenous woman, girls, and Two-Spirit people who are missing or who have been murdered, and those whose lives have been forever changed by such violence.
Canada’s colonial and present has a lasting and negative impact on Indigenous communities. The legacies of residential schools, the 60s scoop, and ongoing colonization including resource theft and socio-economic conditions like poverty often fall the hardest on women and gender diverse people.
This history, along with sexism, ableism, racism, homophobia, transphobia as well as the actions and inactions of governments, create systemic discrimination and inequities. These issues must be addressed in order for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people to be safe wherever they live.
CHF BC is dedicated to the principles of anti-racism and an end to racial discrimination. While some progress has been made Indigenous peoples in Canada still face racism and discrimination every day. We are taking action to tackle hate and discrimination through our strategic priority of ‘belonging.’ We aim to inspire housing co-ops to be communities that promote and embody equitable access, opportunity, respect, and a sense of belonging for everyone by:
Working with housing co-ops to identify and work to remove barriers to equity and inclusion;
Modeling best practices to promote equity and inclusion and to increase diversity among CHF BC directors, staff, workshop leaders, contractors, and consultants; and,
Reviewing and refreshing our education program, management services and development practices to reflect this strategic priority.
The day can be triggering for those affected by missing and murdered Indigenous woman, girls, and Two-Spirit people.
For immediate emotional assistance, call the MMWIG2S+ support line at1-844-413-6649. It is an independent, national, toll-free support call line support line. This line is available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There is also an Indigenous-specific Hope for Wellness Helpline at 1-855-242-3310. They offer Indigenous crisis counselling including in some Indigenous languages.
You can also access long-term health support services such as mental health counselling, community-based emotional support and cultural services. Some travel costs to see Elders and traditional healers can also be covered.
Join PAFNW at Vancouver City Hall at 12:00pm on May 5 to honour our sisters and support the families of #MMIWG2S. For those not able to attend in person, you can also watch a livestream of the event on Facebook