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Red Dress Day (2023): Everything You Need to Know

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Red Dress Day (2023): Everything You Need to Know

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Every year, communities across the globe participate in a special day of awareness that paints the town red - not with roses or festive decorations, but with a deeper symbol of unity and remembrance.

Red Dress Day, a day dedicated to honoring the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women, is a stark reminder of the ongoing issues surrounding gender-based violence.

In this article, we delve into the history, importance, and activities associated with Red Dress Day, shedding light on the powerful symbolism of the red dress in Canada and beyond.

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What is Red Dress Day?

Red Dress Day, also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, is an annual event observed in many parts of the world, particularly in Canada. Established to honor and remember the Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or have gone missing, this day serves as a stark reminder of the systemic violence and discrimination they face.

The red dress symbolizes the missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the color red was chosen as it is believed to be the only color spirits can see. Hence, it is used as a call to the spirits of these women to return home. The day is marked by individuals and institutions displaying red dresses in public spaces, creating a visual reminder of the Indigenous women who are no longer present.

Why is it important?

1. Starting Important Conversations: What Red Dress Day does, first and foremost, is get people talking. It shines a light on the crucial issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls, which doesn't always get the attention it deserves.

2. A Touching Tribute: This day is more than just about raising awareness, it's about paying respect. We take a moment to remember the Indigenous women and girls who are no longer with us, honoring their lives and memories.

3. A Call to Action: Red Dress Day isn't just about remembering, it's about acting. It's a wake-up call for governments, institutions, and every one of us, to take a stand, address systemic problems and ensure justice is served.

4. Fighting for Rights: When we observe Red Dress Day, we're also taking a stand for the rights of Indigenous women and girls. It's a day that underscores the importance of equality and justice.

5. Creating Bonds of Unity: This day brings us together. We stand shoulder to shoulder, united in support of the affected families and communities.

6. Sparking Learning: It's also a day of learning. We delve deeper into the rich tapestry of Indigenous history and culture and confront the harsh realities of colonial violence.

7. A Step Towards Healing: Above all, Red Dress Day creates a much-needed space for grieving and healing. It acknowledges the pain experienced by Indigenous communities, offering a glimmer of hope and resilience.

Red Dress Day Activities

On Red Dress Day, various activities are held across the country to raise awareness and honor the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Here are some typical events you might witness:

1. Hanging Red Dresses: This is the central symbol of Red Dress Day. People hang red dresses in public spaces, homes, or schools to symbolize the absence of Indigenous women and girls who are victims of violence. Each dress serves as a poignant reminder and creates a powerful visual impact.

2. Vigils and Marches: Communities often organize vigils or peaceful marches where participants wear red clothing, not just dresses. These gatherings serve as a time of reflection, remembrance, and solidarity.

3. Educational Seminars and Workshops: Schools, colleges, and community centers may host seminars or workshops highlighting the historical and ongoing issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls. These events might feature guest speakers, documentaries, or interactive discussions.

4. Art and Cultural Exhibits: Art installations or performances, poetry readings, film screenings, and cultural displays are common. They express grief, resistance, and resilience while offering a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture and history.

5. Social Media Campaigns: Online platforms play a key role in spreading the message of Red Dress Day far and wide. People share photos of their red dresses, tell stories, and amplify the voices of Indigenous communities.

6. Fundraising Events: Many participate in fundraising efforts to support organizations that work directly with Indigenous communities and families affected by violence.

These activities all contribute to raising awareness about the staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Through these collective actions, Red Dress Day keeps the conversation alive, pressing for societal change and justice.

FAQs

When did Red Dress Day start?

Red Dress Day, also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, was first observed in 2010 in Canada.

Are you supposed to wear a red dress on Red Dress Day?

Yes, wearing a red dress (or any red clothing) is a common way to show solidarity and support for the cause on Red Dress Day. However, everyone is encouraged to participate in the way that feels most comfortable for them.

Is Red Dress Day a National Day?

In Canada, Red Dress Day is indeed a national day of observance. In the United States, a similar day of awareness takes place on May 5 and is known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

Is Red Dress Day always on May 5?

Yes, Red Dress Day is observed annually on May 5.

What does the red dress symbolize in Canada?

The red dress symbolizes the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. It serves as a stark reminder of the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Indigenous women and is used to call for justice and increased awareness.

Is Red Dress Day only in Canada?

While Red Dress Day originated in Canada, the issue it represents is a global one. Observances have spread to other countries, including the United States, where it is observed as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

Who started National Wear Red Day?

National Wear Red Day is a separate observance held on the first Friday of February in the United States. It was initiated by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in 2003 to raise awareness about heart disease in women.

What is Black Dress Day?

Black Dress Day is a day of observance to honor and remember the victims of meningococcal disease. Participants wear black to symbolize the loss and mourning experienced by those affected by this disease. This observance is not to be confused with Red Dress Day.

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