What is Red Dress Day?

May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, and Girls. It is widely recognized as Red Dress Day, a day to honour and raise awareness about this national tragedy.

This day began in 2010 as a response to the alarmingly high numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Inspired by the artist Jaime Black’s Red Dress Project, red dresses serve as a visual reminder of more than 1000 Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people who have been murdered or gone missing.

Kits House Truth and Reconciliation Committee encourages you to mark the day by:

  • Wearing red or hanging a red dress in your window
  • Learning more about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people and the ongoing impacts of colonization
  • Taking part in Red Dress events in your community
  • Joining the conversation on social media using hashtags: #MMIWG, #MMIWG2S, #RedDressDay, #WhyWeWearRed, and #NoMoreStolenSisters #MMIWG  #MMIWG2S  #RedDressDay #WhyWeWearRed #NoMoreStolenSisters

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People

Indigenous women are four times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women. They are more likely to experience physical assault and sexual assault than non-Indigenous women and twice as likely to experience violence at the hands of a current or former partner than non-Indigenous women. For years, communities have pointed to the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQIA. From 2001-2014, the average rate of homicide involving Indigenous women was four times that of those involving non-Indigenous women. Statistics Canada has found that even when controlling for other risk factors, Indigenous identity itself remained a risk factor for violent victimization of women.

In December 2015 the Government of Canada launched the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Its final report, Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, includes 231 individual Calls for Justice directed at governments, institutions, social service providers, industries, and all Canadians. The National Inquiry confirmed that, “rates of violence against Metis, Inuit, and First Nations women, girls, and 2SLGBTTQIA people are much higher than for non-Indigenous women in Canada, even when all over differentiating factors are accounted for. Perpetrators of violence include Indigenous and non-Indigenous family members, partners, casual acquaintances, and serial killers”.



  • Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than any other women in Canada
  • Indigenous women are three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be victims of violence
  • 1000+ Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada
  • 162 Indigenous women are still missing
  • 365 cases remain unsolved
  • In its statistics on homicide, the RCMP report only includes cases where the original investigating police force has concluded that a murder has taken place. The report explicitly does not include unexplained and suspicious deaths.
  • Deaths of Indigenous women and girls are not always fully and properly investigated and that as a result some murders of Indigenous women and girls may have been wrongly classified as accidental deaths
  • Indigenous women make up 16% of all female homicide victims, and 11% of missing women, even though Indigenous people make up 4.3% of the population of Canada.
  • A red handprint, usually painted across the mouth, is a symbol that is used to indicate solidarity with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in North America


Questions to consider

  • What factors contribute to the disproportionally high level of violence towards Indigenous women and girls?
    • Victims are often blamed, for a variety of reasons like alcohol/drug use or homelessness. In addition, the hyper-sexualization and dehumanization of Indigenous women plays a role in the disproportionate rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Systemic racism as well as persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are at the root of Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
  • Consider what happens to the children of Indigenous women that are murdered and gone missing?
  • What can you do?

Additional Resources

  • Children Books:
    • , written by Monique Gray Smith, illustrations by Julie Flett.
    • Written by Barbara M. Joosse, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee.
    • , written and illustrated by Danielle Daniel.
    • , written and illustrated by Julie Flett.
    • Written by Aviaq Johnston and illustrated by Tim Mack.
    • , written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard.
    • , written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland. (recommended for middle grades and up)
    • , written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson.
    • Nibi’s Water Song, written by Sunshine Tenasco, illustrated by Chief Lady Bird.
    • When We Were Alone, written by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett.
    • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.
    • May We Have Enough to Share, written by Richard Van Camp with photographs by Tea and Bannock, and beaded artwork by Caroline Blechert.
    • You Hold Me Up, written by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel.