Red Dress Day in support of missing & murdered Indigenous women in Oshawa Sunday

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Published May 3, 2024 at 3:29 pm

Red Dress Day
Red Dress Day - May 5

Red Dress Day, the national day for awareness of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit and Gender Diverse people, returns Sunday, with Oshawa looking to draw attention to the crisis with a red dress art installation at City Hall and other City facilities.

Inspired by Métis artist Jaime Black, whose red dress art inspired the movement, 13 dresses now line the pathway from King St. W. and Centre St. S. to City Hall, with 13 more inside on the main floor of the building. The groupings of 13 represent the Thirteen Moons followed by the Anishinaabe calendar teachings: each Moon reflects a teaching that emphasize the importance of maintaining balance, respect, and harmony in relationships with oneself, others, and the environment.

The National Day for Awareness of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit and Gender Diverse Individuals began in 2010 as a response to the more than 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and has become a call to action to the disproportionate rates of gender-based violence facing Indigenous communities.

The crisis also inspired the song ‘End of the Road’ by Oshawa rocker’s Crown Lands, who have long been noted for tackling Indigenous issues in their lyrics. End of the Road looks at the Highway of Tears, a 719-kilometre stretch of road between Prince George and Prince Rupert in northern B.C. which has been the location of crimes against many Indigenous women over the past half-century.

The song has drummer and vocalist Cody Bowles singing about ‘Stolen Sisters:’

In the sea of stars
I’ll find you again
Give them back

Oshawa will be displaying red dresses at recreation facilities as well, including the entrances to the Civic Recreation Complex, Delpark Homes Centre, Donevan Recreation Complex and South Oshawa Community Centre. The artwork features signage bearing the names and faces of known past and present cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and gender diverse Individuals, with a QR code to learn more about the day and ways to get involved to promote action.

As Tracey-Mae Chambers, a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, said when she created a red string art project at Pickering Museum Village in 2022, “red is the colour of blood. Red is the slur against Indigenous people. Red is the colour of passion and anger, danger and power, but also courage and love.”

Oshawa residents can also support the local Indigenous community and efforts towards reconciliation with the Moose Hide Campaign, which has its own day May 16.

The Moose Hide Campaign is a nationwide movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians from First Nations, local communities, governments, schools, post-secondary institutions, and other organizations that are committed to taking action to end violence towards women and children.

The cornerstone of the campaign is the moose hide pin. Wearing the pin signifies the wearer’s commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children in their life and speak out against gender-based and domestic violence.

In addition to being a symbol against gender-based and domestic violence, moose hide is also a symbol of undoing the effects of Residential Schools.

Throughout the month of May, pins will be available at the service counters at City Hall and at the city’s recreation facilities.

Red Dress Day was inspired by the work of Metis artist Jamie Black

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