Policy Sectors

Press Release

President of Native Women’s Association of Canada Marks Another Red Dress Day Without National Plan to Address Violence

May 4, 2021

OTTAWA – The following is a statement from Lorraine Whitman, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), marking Red Dress Day that is celebrated on May 5 to honour the memory of Indigenous women who have been lost to violence.

“On May 5, Red Dresses will again hang from trees across Canada, moving with the breeze to symbolize their missing wearers – Indigenous women whose violent deaths leave empty garments and shattered families.

Today, we stand in unity with those who have lost loved ones to this tragedy. We grieve for all of those women, girls, and gender-diverse people whose lives have tragically been cut short. And we embrace those who are left behind to mourn.

It has been 11 years since Métis artist Jaime Black created the first REDress public art installation at the University of Winnipeg to honour Canada’s missing and murdered First Nations, Métis and Inuit women. It was inspired by a demonstration she saw in Bogotá, Columbia in which women, garbed in red, gathered in a public square to grieve for their loved ones who had disappeared.

Since then, thousands of others across Canada and in countries around the world have been hanging red dresses in trees on this day to add their voice to the growing cry of horror at these crimes that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls has determined to be a genocide.

But, 11 years later, the deaths and the disappearances continue in this country and, indeed, across the Americas. Eleven years later, the government has produced no national action plan to stop the violence. Eleven years later, Indigenous women are no safer than they were on that day when Ms. Black hung that first red dress in Manitoba.

The latest statistics say Indigenous women in Canada are still seven times more likely than non-Indigenous women to die at the hands of a killer. This has to stop. Governments must take action. They have a legal and a moral obligation to protect us.

Today, my heart is with those who are aching for a lost mother, grandmother, sister, daughter or auntie. We see your tears and cry along with you. Please know that the one you are missing will never be forgotten.”


Media Contact:

For information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Roselie LeBlanc
+1 (604) 928-3233

Pour obtenir plus d’information ou prendre des dispositions pour une interview, contacter:

Roselie LeBlanc
+1 (604) 928-3233

About The Native Women’s Association of Canada
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a National Indigenous Organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls, transgender, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations on and off reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis and Inuit. An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canada societies.

À propos de l'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada

L'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada (AFAC) est une organisation autochtone nationale qui représente la voix politique des femmes, des filles, des transgenres, des bispirituels et des personnes de sexe différent au Canada, y compris les membres des Premières nations vivant dans les réserves et hors réserve, les Indiens inscrits et non inscrits, les personnes privées de leurs droits, les Métis et les Inuits. Regroupant des organisations de femmes autochtones de tout le pays, l'AFAC a été fondée dans le but collectif d'améliorer, de promouvoir et de favoriser le bien-être social, économique, culturel et politique des femmes autochtones au sein de leurs communautés respectives et des sociétés canadiennes.