May 8, 2024

Red Dress Day

On May 5, 2024, BC observed Red Dress Day in honour of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (“MMIW”) also referred to by many as “Stolen Sisters”. For many families, Red Dress Day  can be a painful reminder that there loved ones were either never found or their cases never investigated, leaving many unanswered questions. For other families, Red Dress Day allows families to honour their loved ones by keeping their legacies alive.

Some quick statistics on Stolen Sisters:

  • Indigenous women are four times more likely to be victims of violence than their non-indigenous counterparts.
  • Makeup 16% of all female homicide and 11% go missing. Indigenous peoples as a whole currently only make up 4.3% of Canada’s population.
  • Between 2001 and 2014, the average homicide rate of Indigenous women are four times higher than their non-indigenous counterparts.

(source: https://afn.ca/rights-justice/murdered-missing-indigenous-women-girls/)

As we embrace another year of honouring our Stolen Sisters on Red Dress Day, Kitsilano Family Law’s very own, Kerri Newman, whose family is from the Kwakiutl First Nation, takes the time to reflect on this very special day:

MMIW Red Dress Day May 5th,2024

Today I reflected on the significance of Red Dress Day, the Murdered Missing Indigenous Woman (MMIW). The fact that we as women have been through so much, and today we still face adversary and abuse with little change. In 2024, there are still so many Stolen Sisters who are either missing or homicide cases going unanswered, and their families are not sure if they will ever be able to find their loved ones or receive closure of any kind. Today as we reflect, we see that things are changing and people are no longer sitting on the sidelines letting these disappearances go unnoticed.

Today as I stand and look around, I see so many indigenous women, seeking those answers and seeking out who to hold accountable. We are speaking up, marching and calling to action for something to be done in bringing our Stolen Sisters home and searching the landfills. Our people need answers and we need the loss of our daughters to end.

Today when I look around, I see how proud we are to be here, to be indigenous, to be women, to share our culture and our healing practice. More importantly, we are standing up, using our voices to say: NO MORE STOLEN SISTERS.

Today as I reflect on the past, the missing women, the journey it took to bring our Stolen Sisters to light; I can see change for the better. I see people of all backgrounds, genders and ages coming together to march and honour our Stolen Sisters and hopefully in the future bring comfort and closure to the families of those who are found.

On May 5th and every other day we continue to say "NO MORE STOLENSISTERS." Although there are still many Indigenous women missing, we will continue to use our voices to be heard. We have come a long way, and we know that things are changing. We are here to stay, and we will keep our traditions alive by passing them down to future generations.

Today I am a proud indigenous woman, raising my daughters to stand proud of being indigenous and to let people know that we are here to stay and will keep fighting for our people and the MMIW.

Authored by Kerri Newman

Edited by Jennifer Buckley

THE BRIEF

Read more from Kitsilano Family Law’s blog — The Brief.

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