New Westminster, B.C. – Last week, New Westminster City Council proclaimed May 5, 2023, Red Dress Day, a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People. A local Red Dress Campaign for the month of May has been organized jointly by Spirit of the Children Society and the City. Participating in and amplifying the Red Dress Day movement aligns with the City’s efforts to uncover the truth of the effect of its colonial history as part of A Year of Truth.
“Non-Indigenous people have a role to play in the fight for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people in this country,” said Mayor Patrick Johnstone. “The City of New Westminster is honoured to have a partner like Spirit of the Children Society, and to help raise awareness of the ongoing national crisis of racialized and gendered violence towards Indigenous people.”
Indigenous women and girls are five times more likely to experience violence than any other population in Canada, and the violence tends to result in more serious harm. Red Dress Day was started in 2010 by Métis artist Jaime Black; the day has grown into a movement to educate and create awareness and calls to action for systemic change. A free public event to recognize the day is being hosted by Spirit of the Children Society and the City in Hyack Square at 3:00 pm on May 5.
“Spirit of the Children Society is grateful for the support received by the City of New Westminster for our May 5 event,” said Ruth Weller, Executive Director for Spirit of the Children Society. “It is important to continue to keep at center the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people by encouraging learning and building awareness. It is important to honour those who are missing and those whose lives have been tragically lost.”
The City of New Westminster collected donations of red dresses from the community in April; these have been used to create displays around the city that will remain up throughout May. The City encourages the public to visit the displays and take a moment to reflect on the lives lost.
For more information about Red Dress Day and how the community can participate, as well as a special message from the New Westminster Police Department, visit: newwestcity.ca/reddress
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