High school students reflect on MMIWG Red Dress Day
Updated: May 18
On May 5th NCS paused to remember Canada's Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
Today is National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, or Red Dress Day. Originally an art installation response by Jaime Black, the red dresses have become a symbol of this critical national issue. Police recorded 1,017 incidents of Aboriginal female homicides between 1980 and 2012 and 164 missing Aboriginal female investigations dating back to 1952.
At Nanaimo Christian School, high school students hung a red dress at the roadside to remember the lives of each of the 1,181 indigenous women and girls who were murdered or went missing between 1980 and 2012, and others since.
"On May 5th, I wore red, but why. The stories, the assumptions, the imagery, the women, the girls, the forgotten. Being an indigenous girl, I grew up afraid, I was taught to be. I knew so much at such a young age because of the fear that my people might lose another one of their sisters. I heard story after story of those who were lost and to this day haven't been found, the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. I wore red on May 5th because my heart is broken for those who might not be seen again. " -- Anonymous grade 12 student
(Read more below the image)
"Though Canada strives for reconciliation from our First Nations communities, our police forces and Government fail to realize the consistent pattern of missing and murdered indigenous women. Even to say that this isn't systematic racism would be a strike in that field itself.
I'm proud to see NCS bringing light to the matter when hanging the red dresses in our trees and educating our students young about Indigenous people in general. Red has been recorded in many tribes as the only colour spirits can see, so using red in these campaigns is in hope to find the missing spirits of our lost women, wives and children so they may truly rest in peace."
-- Arden Haseltine
"May 5th is an important day because of not only the awareness raised towards Indigenous oppression but because of what it symbolizes. It symbolizes the missing and murdered Indigenous women and how their cases have been thrown aside by Canadian Police and our government over the decades. At NCS, we have hung a red dress in the trees in front of our school to show that every Indigenous woman is seen and heard. The red dress being hung recognizes that we as a school community care and will continue to raise awareness on this issue. Every woman that has disappeared, every woman that has been murdered matters. That is why select students and teachers have intentionally worn red today, to be a part of the movement."
-- Jasmin Naylor
"I wore red today to bring awareness to the missing and murdered Indigenous women. Living in an area with such a predominant Indigenous presence, it's important that we lift up their voices. Wearing red won't undo the centuries of discrimination, but I believe that it can help bring people's attention to a problem that they may have thought was far in the past." -- Devon Kruger
"We wear red today to stand in support of missing and murdered Indigenous women. This national crisis disproportionately affects Indigenous women and youth in Canada and the United States as they have been frequent targets of violence and discrimination. According to a Statistics Canada report, it was estimated that between 1997 and 2000, the rate of homicides for Aboriginal women and girls was almost seven times higher than that of other females. This is unacceptable. We need to ask ourselves how we can improve the situation for our Indigenous sisters and take concrete actions to support them in making positive change." WmCanada_AborigWm.pdf (oaith.ca) -- Juliana
"This day is especially meaningful to me because my family and I have personal ties to it as Indigenous people, but it still would be even without those ties. When we as humans see other people in need, being persecuted, being treated as less human than anyone else, it is our responsibility to speak up and take action. Every single person has their own unique personality, story, culture, and heritage that should be valued & respected, and it hurts to not only see Indigenous culture being disrespected every day, but to also see Indigenous people being targeted with violence for simply existing. Racism against Indigenous people is not in the past, it is not a history lesson, it is real and it is happening now. Please continue to educate yourself and listen to Indigenous voices not only on this day, but every day."
-- Anonymous grade 12 student