(Artist Jaime Black started the Red Dress Project in 2010 as an aesthetic response to the more than 1,000 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Find out more here.)
Oct 4 is the MMIWGT2S Day of Remembrance.
Due to the pandemic, here in Winnipeg the West Central Women’s Center is asking us to hang red dresses around the city as a way of marking the event and encouraging discussion.
Discussion is needed.
There was an inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Canada which shows in detail why First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are vulnerable to violence in our society and lists specific calls for justice which we can all participate in.
Canada is in this weird situation where we try to look like we’re not racist but we’re not willing to do the work of actually not being racist - so we’ll fund something like a national inquiry into MMIW (there was also an in inquiry on reconciliation) but we will not trust or act on the findings of the inquiries.
The findings of the inquiry are clear: Indigenous women are murdered as a part of an ongoing genocide.
I remember in school learning about genocide and apartheid and I would wonder how the people in those countries allowed these atrocities to happen in their homes.
Meanwhile, it was happening in mine -the last residential school in Canada closed four years after I graduated from high school.
And it's still happening to this day.
This is how we allow it to happen, by not talking about it.
So many well-meaning white people, settlers, hear about what’s happening and are all “OMG it’s terrible what’s happening I feel helpless” and leave it at that.
If that's you - please don’t leave it at that.
Come up with some things you can do (the TRC has 94 recommendations).
Follow your local Indigenous leaders, artists and writers online and listen carefully to what they're saying.
No one can fix this alone. We all need to be a part of the solution.
There’s this thing that happens, both with our personal dreams for our lives and with how we collectively want to change the world, where we shy away from taking action.
I could knit this one sweater, but I don’t know how to quit my job and make a living knitting, so I do nothing.
I could make a red dress and hang it up in my neighbourhood but what if someone asks me something about it and I don’t know the answer? So I do nothing.
With our own dreams, we can take baby steps, learn to listen better to our intuition and get into the flow and find our way to where we want to be. You never have to know HOW before you start the journey.
When it comes to changing the word, the good news is that it’s NEVER our job to know HOW.
Especially when it comes to white people wanting to help end white supremacy and systemic racism, we’re not supposed to be the leaders. We’re not supposed to have the answers.
We need to be willing to listen and learn and show up and support.