Red Dress Day 2021: National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People
May 5 every year is the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada. Also known as Red Dress Day. On this day in a typical year, you might notice some red dresses hanging near a church, on campus, or from someone’s balcony, and you have probably wondered what it means.
This day began as “an aesthetic response to more than 1000 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada” by Jaime Black (Métis). It started in 2010, and also includes Trans and Two-Spirit individuals who have gone missing or have been murdered. The red dresses act as a visual reminder all of the missing women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. This year, the REDress Project is in downtown Nelson, British Columbia, but pop-ups can also occur across the country.
We encourage you to wear red if you can to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people. Here are some books in our collection where you can learn more about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people. If an author is Indigenous, their nation will be included as a bracket next to their name.
Available in Print
"Missing nimama is a story of love, loss, and acceptance, showing the human side of a national tragedy."
If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie (Ojibway), Nahanni Shingoose (Ojibway/Saulteaux) and illustrated by Neal Shannacappo (Ojibway/Saulteaux)
"A powerfully illustrated graphic novel for teens about the subject of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Combining graphic fiction and non-fiction, this young adult graphic novel serves as a window into one of the unique dangers of being an Indigenous teen in Canada today. The text of the book is derived from excerpts of a letter written to the Winnipeg Chief of Police by fourteen-year-old Brianna Jonnie -- a letter that went viral and in which, Jonnie calls out the authorities for neglecting to immediately investigate and involve the public in the search for missing Indigenous people, and urges them to "not treat me as the Indigenous person I am proud to be" if she were to be reported missing. Indigenous artist Neal Shannacappo provides the artwork for the book. Through his illustrations he imagines a situation in which a young Indigenous woman does disappear, portraying the reaction of her community, her friends, the police and media. An author's note at the end of the book provides context for young readers about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada."
Available in Multiple Formats
Will I See? By David Alexander Robertson (Cree), Iskwé (Cree/Métis) and Leslie Erin, and illustrated GMB Chomichuk and Erin Leslie.
""May, a young teenage girl, traverses the city streets, finding keepsakes in different places along her journey. When May and her kookum make these keepsakes into a necklace, it opens a world of danger and fantasy. While May fights against a terrible reality, she learns that there is strength in the spirit of those that have passed. But will that strength be able to save her? A story of tragedy and beauty, Will I See illuminates the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women."
Keetsahnak: Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters edited by Kim Anderson (Cree/Métis), Christi Belcourt (Métis) and Maria Campbell (Métis)
"Through stories of resilience, resistance, and activism, the editors give voice to powerful personal testimony and allow for the creation of knowledge. It's in all of our best interests to take on gender violence as a core resurgence project, a core decolonization project, a core of Indigenous nation building, and as the backbone of any Indigenous mobilization."
"Highway of Tears will offer an intimate, first-hand look at the communities along Highway 16 and the families of the victims, as well as examine the historically fraught social and cultural tensions between settler and Indigenous peoples that underlie life in the region. Finally, it will link these cases with others found across Canada--estimated to number over 1,200--contextualizing them within a broader examination of the undervaluing of Indigenous lives in the country and of our ongoing failure to provide justice for the missing and murdered."
Forever Loved: Exposing the Hidden Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada contributed by Jennifer Brant (Kanien'kehá:ka) and Dawn Memee Lavell-Harvard (Anishinabe)
"This collection brings together the voices of Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, frontline workers and activists who weave together academic and personal narratives, spoken word and poetry in the spirit of demanding immediate action. Our intent is to honour our missing sisters and their families, to honour their lives and their stories."
"In 2014, the nation was rocked by the brutal violence against young Aboriginal women Loretta Saunders, Tina Fontaine and Rinelle Harper. But tragically, they were not the only Aboriginal women to suffer that year. In fact, an official report reveals that since1980, 1,200 Canadian Aboriginal women have been murdered or have gone missing. This alarming official figure reveals a national tragedy and the systemic failure of law enforcement and of all levels of government to address the issue."
Surviving the City, Volume 1 by Tasha Sumner-Spillett (Cree), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis)
"Tasha Spillet's graphic-novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, resilience, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan's Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape - they're so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez's grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can't stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can't bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez's community find her before it's too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don't? Colonialism and the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People are explored in Natasha Donovan's beautiful illustrations."
Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Canada)
"The National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The two volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country." (statement from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls website.)
A Legal Analysis of Genocide: Supplementary Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (PDF) by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Canada)
"This supplementary legal analysis represents the views and opinions of the National Inquiry. In reaching our conclusion, we consulted with international legal scholars and lawyers with expertise on genocide and international crimes." (statement from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls website.)