SCO Honours Red Dress Day 2024

May 3, 2024

“Along with honouring those that we have lost, we anticipate new initiatives to finally put an end to this national emergency.” – Grand Chief Daniels  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 3, 2024

ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB —The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) once again joins people from across Turtle Island, in honouring and acknowledging Red Dress Day.

Red Dress Day is also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two Spirit People (MMIWG2S+). It is observed on May 5th. The day honours and brings awareness to the thousands of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis women, girls, two spirit, and gender-diverse people who have been subjected to gender-based violence in Canada.

“First and foremost on this important day of reflection and remembrance, I extend my sincerest and deepest condolences to all victims of MMIWG2S+ and their loved ones,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “This day also serves as motivation, as we continue to raise our voices and advocate for change and justice for the victims and their families. It is essential we work to put an end to this ongoing national emergency, a result of the intersection of gender-based violence with anti-Indigenous racism.”  

One year ago, the House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of declaring MMIWG2S+ a nation-wide emergency and agreed to provide funding for a Red Dress Alert System to make the public aware when an Indigenous woman, girl, gender-diverse, or two spirit person goes missing. That initiative is now before the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

“While I can appreciate that creating a new government initiative takes time, I urge the members of the standing committee, the federal government, and politicians of all parties to prioritize the implementation of this vital resource,” added Sagkeeng Anicinabe First Nation Chief E.J. Fontaine. “Lives are literally at stake, and our women, girls, two spirit, and gender-diverse relatives are at risk every day.”

SCO is proud to join a number of our member Nations and other organizations and allies on Red Dress Day to call for justice, to honour our loved ones, and to make space for those impacted by MMIWG2S+ to reclaim their power and place.

On May 3rd at the Ebb and Flow First Nation, there will be a MMIWG2S+ Healing and Wellness Walk. That event starts at the Nation’s school at 10:30 am.

Also on May 3rd, Red River Polytechnic will feature a Red Dress Special dance at its annual pow wow to honour Indigenous graduates and Indigenous student academic achievement. The event takes place at the Notre Dame Campus, North Gym, with a grand entry at noon.

On May 5th, which is officially Red Dress Day, the organizers of the University of Winnipeg’s annual graduation pow wow are hosting a Red Dress Special dance. The grand entry is scheduled for 12:30 pm at the Duckworth Centre.

There are events happening in many places on May 5th, with a number taking place in Winnipeg. There will be keynote speakers, drummers, and dancers at The Forks at noon, along with community members sharing about the importance of this day in honouring those who have been taken too soon and those who are still searching for loved ones.

Later on Sunday, the Fourth Annual MMIWG2S+ Walk for Justice will take place. That event starts at 6 pm with participants walking from the Oodena Circle to the steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building.

The Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation will host a walk starting from the corner of Highway 50 and Townsite Bay on Monday, March 6th. The walk is scheduled to start at 10 am.

Everyone is welcome to attend all of these events. You are encouraged to bring your drums, rattles, and to wear red.

“On Red Dress Day, and every day, I reiterate my call for all levels of government to continue working towards the implementation of the 231 Calls for Justice that came from the testimony and truths of thousands of family members and Survivors at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “Let us all continue to come together and truly build a safer society for our women, girls, two spirit, and gender-diverse people.”

A full list of Red Dress Day events taking place in southern Manitoba can be found on our website here.

SCO is gifting free booklets containing the 231 Calls for Justice which are available at our sub-office at 1572 Dublin in Winnipeg along with red dress beading kits  that are also free of charge. Members of the public can pick these up between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday. (Our office is closed from 12 to 1 pm.) Booklets and beading kits can be mailed out to those who do not live in Winnipeg by emailing a request to: receptionist@scoinc.mb.ca  

SCO launched a Pathways to Healing Program in 2022 to provide support, advocacy, and systems navigation for families and Survivors and those impacted by the issue of MMIWG2S+. Find more information about this program here.

-30-

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

For media inquiries:

Email: Media@scoinc.mb.ca