Red Dress Day vigil brings awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women

Red Dress March in Cranbrook on May 5, 2024. (2dayFM Staff)

People across Canada, including the Kootenays, gathered on Sunday  to hold a Red Dress Day vigil to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The event is held every year on May 5 to bring awareness to the disproportionate rates of violence against Indigenous women girls and 2SLGBTQIA+ people.

“We feel like women who are reporting violence, sexual violence and crimes are not being believed and heard due to the many social issues we’re facing today, such as mental health and addiction issues,” said Jennifer McNally, Red Dress March community volunteer.

“It’s a lot of trauma to deal with and I don’t think the police forces and some laws are supporting how to move forward with taking interviews properly, treating victims with respect and dignity and actually getting some real action into finding out what’s going on with missing and murdered Indigenous women.”

In Cranbrook, vigil attendees marched from Street Angels to Rotary Park.

According to a statement from the B.C. government, 490 Indigenous women and girls were victims of homicide in Canada from 2009 to 2021.

“In this timeframe, the rate of homicide of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls was six times higher than the rate among their non-Indigenous counterparts,” said a written statement from Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity.

“In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than any other women in Canada.”

McNally hopes governments and officials will act to tackle the high rates of violence against Indigenous women.

“I think we need to get our MPs and politicians together to find some ways to force law enforcement to take proper, appropriate training,” said McNally. “Our first responders are a key essential service that we rely on every day, and I believe they’d like more training.”

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