Red Dress Alert System

red dress art installation calling attention to MMIWG, held at Seaforth Peace Park, Vancouver, BC.
 on May 9, 2024
Edna Winti/Flickr CC, via

In advance of Canada’s National Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) on May 5, there are a number of actions the country is taking to try and change the reality of this tragic story. The day, also known as Red Dress Day, commemorates the release of the MMIWG report back in May of 2019.

Member of Parliament Leah Gazan, has met success with her request for the implementation of a national Red Dress Alert system for missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. The system would work in a similar way to the Amber Alert system for missing children.

Gazan first urged the government to support a system for alerting the public to a missing Indigenous woman, girl, or two-spirit person, in February 2023. She wrote a letter to the Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino informing him of the disproportionate number of Indigenous people who go missing compared to non-Indigenous. The government followed up by adding money into that year’s budget to explore this system.

On March 19, the Status of Women Committee began a study into how best to implement the alert. The committee will hear from family members, survivors, and grassroots leaders to provide recommendations to the government.

This work comes on the heels of February’s remembrance days of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people, often coinciding with February 14, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day.

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, empty red dresses hung throughout the city, organized by Brock University as a Red Dress awareness day. In Hamilton, people gathered to remember Helen Gillings, an Indigenous woman who was murdered in 1995. A new temporary plaque of remembrance was unveiled to honour her on the lamppost in the alley- way where she was last seen. The plaque will soon be made permanent.

The Anglican Church of Canada continues to call for the 231 Calls to Justice to be completed and has a liturgy for MMIWG which could be used for holding vigil on May 5.

KAIROS Canada, of which the Anglican Church of Canada is a member, made a public call last August for Manitoba to search the landfill for Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran whose remains are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill. The province of Manitoba has since committed $20 million to carry out the search.

For more information, go to the MMIWG Info-Hub on KAIROS

If you would like to host a KAIROS Blanket Exercise in your parish to learn more about MMIWG, Indigenous peoples, and their treatment in this part of Turtle Island, please email Deirdre at [email protected]

  • Deirdre Pike

    Deirdre Pike is the diocese’s Justice and Outreach Program Consultant. She also serves on the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton, and is a regular contributor to the Hamilton Spectator.

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