Indigenous groups in Canada mark Red Dress Day, raising awareness of MMIWG

Indigenous groups from across the country held grieving ceremonies on Wednesday to remember the nearly 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

May 5 in Canada and the U.S. marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), which coincides with “Red Dress Day.”

“This day was started over 11 years ago by Jaime Black, who is a Metis artist, and she wanted to do a public display of red dresses to raise awareness,” Lynne Groulx, CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, told CTV News.

According to the RCMP, there are nearly 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous woman and girls in Canada, though it’s believed the number could be much higher.

Among those is 31-year-old Ashley Morin from Ahtakakoop Cree Nation, who last seen in North Battleford, Sask. in 2018.

Krista Fox, a member of the Morin family, said Ashley Morin’s mother Diane still can’t speak about her daughter’s disappearance.

“I sit beside Diane right now who is a mess, it doesn't get easier,” Fox said.

The RCMP considers her disappearance a homicide, but the Morin family hasn’t given up their search.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Indigenous groups from across the country were able to gather for Red Dress Day to remember the loved ones they lost and hang red dresses, a symbol of the violent epidemic Indigenous women face everyday.

“This is something that hits our communities hard, and it’s something that pretty much affects every member of our community,” said Kelly Welch, cultural program co-ordinator at Healing of the Seven Generations in Kitchener, Ont.

In addition to Kitchener, events were also held in Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina and London, Ont., and Timmins, Ont. to name a few.

With files from CTV News Saskatoon