We asked: What does Red Dress Day mean to you?

·2 min read

Indigenous communities and supporters gathered Thursday at London Peace Garden in Ivey Park to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People, also known as Red Dress Day. Calvi Leon asked participants and organizers about what May 5 means to them.

RETA VAN EVERY

“It’s to remember the spirits of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and their families, communities, their tribes and their nations,” said Van Every, who's with My Sisters' Place, an event sponsor. “We want them to know that we still love them and care about them. That that we haven't forgotten them, and we're not going to forget them . . . We're doing that community healing together.”

MADISON ALEXANDRA

“Today means community coming together to show their allyship for Indigenous communities,” said the 19-year-old, part of the Okaadenige program at Atlohsa Family Healing Services, a London non-profit that offers services and shelter to the city's Indigenous community. “Although the name just focuses on missing and murdered Indigenous women, I also like to bring attention to the two-spirit, boys and men who are also disproportionately targeted and not often centred in these conversations.”

SHELLY DOXTATOR

“(Today is about) showing awareness to our missing and murdered women,” said Doxtator, who works at Onyota’a:ka (Oneida) Family Healing Lodge, a domestic violence shelter at Oneida Nation of the Thames. “It’s an issue all around. Not just in Canada, but the world. It’s about bringing that issue to light, so people know . . . And about getting closure for the ones who haven’t been found.”

ELYSSA ROSE

“When I look at these red dresses, I can see faces (and) hear voices. I think of those who have been before us, but also those who are walking directly behind us, where we are creating footsteps for,” said Rose, who heads Atlohsa's anti-human trafficking initiative. “Today, to me, means prevention, honouring those who have been murdered or missing, and sending out love to those who need to find somewhere to share their voice, to share something that's happened to them, or to find out who they are and connect with their culture.”

[caption id="attachment_738205" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Art made by youth in the Okaadenige project at Atlohsa uses statistics to tell the story of Red Dress Day in London. The National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People is held on May 5. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)[/caption]

cleon@postmedia.com

twitter.com/CalviatLFPress

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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