Red Dress Day is Thursday, May 5, it is a day set aside to honour missing and murdered Indigenous people. It is meant to educate and bring awareness to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, two-spirit people and men.
Red Dress Day was started in 2010 by Metis artist Jamie Black and it was her REDdress art installation that has evolved and grown into the annual Red Dress Day.
The grassroots movement is represented with empty dresses that create a visual representation of the missing people and recognize the pain and loss of families, victims and survivors. The colour red was chosen because “red”, according to Indigenous belief, is the only colour spirits can see and carries significance in calling the spirits of missing murdered women and girls back to their loved ones.
For the first time, Bow Valley High School’s staff and students will be partaking in meaningful activities leading up to a schoolwide walk on Thursday, May 5 all in an effort to teach awareness and recognize Red Dress Day.
Organizer and BVHS teacher Jenisse Galloway says while this will be the school’s first organized recognition of Red Dress Day, it will not be the last. “We were very clear with our intentions, that we wanted this to be the first year that it’s happening but that it continues to grow and become just a regular part of our yearly learning at school. So, we’re definitely hoping to build on this and make it bigger and even more impactful every year from now on.”
Last Wednesday, the entire learning community at Bow Valley High School took part in a teaching session learning about the history of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-spirit People (MMIWG2S) issue. The meaning of the Red Dress and Moosehide* campaigns as well as of the findings from the National Inquiry
Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 3, students will be provided materials to create symbolic crafts that will be worn or carried with them during the walk on May 5. Choices of crafts will include a red dress beaded pin, a red dress pin made from red felt and decorated, or an origami red dress pin. Other options will include making a button or tracing their hand and writing a pledge. Of course, many will be wearing red dresses, or other red clothing to recognize the day.
Galloway says she is hearing from her students that families want to take part in the walk on Thursday. “Especially some of my Indigenous students have talked to me saying that they have mentioned at home that this is happening and that they think their parents or family members might want to be a part of it. So, we have opened it up and I think it would be really great to see some community involvement.”
The BVHS walk in recognition of Red Dress Day will start at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 5 in the field outside of the school. Students, staff and members of the community will walk the loop around BVHS and the pond carrying symbols in honour of MMIWG2S.
*The Moose-Hide campaign is a movement to end violence against women and children.