Kenora groups mark Red Dress Day

·2 min read

Kenora is joining other communities to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people with Red Dress Day.

To mark the occasion, an open house and free barbecue was held at the Kenora Sexual Assault Centre on Friday at lunch.

Kayla Adams, who was one of the organizers, also coordinates the anti-human trafficking program at the Kenora Sexual Assault Centre.

Adams said the Red Dress Day is important because there is a very large Indigenous community around our area.

“Indigenous women and girls are five times more likely to experience violence than any other population in Canada,” she said. ”And this violence tends to result in more serious harm to these people. So we're just trying to get the word out and spread across the community and it's a big issue. And a lot of it has to do with human trafficking as well.”

Adams said human trafficking is especially concerning in this area.

"There's so much vulnerability in the community, so much loss, so much grief and so much drug and alcohol abuse.”

“We're so close to Winnipeg and also the United States borders. So that includes sexual exploitation,” she said. “So the sexual trafficking and then also labor trafficking in domestic servitude.”

She said people who don't have strong ties to the area may be easier to get trafficked because of how vulnerable they are.

“So I just try to bring more awareness to the community and also to be able to recognize when clients come into if they're being trafficked or not,” she said.

Some of the signs Adams pointed out include, increased social media presence, a poor home life that includes abuse, secrecy, hanging out with older people, an increased presence of money, with expensive purchases,

“It's a change in appearance so that could be losing weight. that could be getting tattoos, piercings, changing hair or different clothing, [including] more provocative clothing, a change in attitude, more drug or alcohol use,” she said. “Those are a lot of signs that we do see.”

Adams said the best thing for people to do is become more educated because human trafficking happens in every community.

“You just don't see it. It's very invisible to the eye unless you do know the signs of human trafficking.” she said. “Being aware of all those different signs is helpful to get somebody help before they get fully entrenched in the system.”

Adams said as well as Red Dress Day, they will be marking No One Asks for it Day, which asks people to wear purple in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence.

The event is also sponsored by the Kenora Chiefs Assembly and the Ontario Native Women’s Association.

Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source