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Red Dress Day commemorated in Saskatchewan: ‘Gives meaning to resilience’

Sunday marked Red Dress Day in Canada, raising awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people in the country.

Angela Jaime, University of Saskatchewan Indigenous Engagement Vice-Provost said it’s a day of observance and education.

“Red is the colours that the spirits can see so we are hoping that those that have been missing and murdered see that and know to come back, that this is safe for them,” she said.

Jaime called the issue an “epidemic.”

“They have been murdered thoughtlessly and disposed of and we are hoping that this draws attention to stop that.”

Jaime said it is 19 times more likely that an Indigenous woman goes missing or is murdered in Saskatchewan than anyone else.

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Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Office Laura Ross said it’s a day to talk about gender-based violence.

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“Prevention is key in ending inter-personal violence in our province, and our hope is to keep these discussions going,” she said.

Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Don McMorris said last year, the MMIWG community response fund supported 23 projects.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to addressing the issues raised in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” he said.

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Lori Whiteman, who helped tailor the response fund criteria, said her mother is a missing woman.

“I am the first mom in my family that is raising her own kids,” she said.

She said so many of today’s issues, including MMIWG, is a direct result of colonization.

“There is still seeing the way that lives are devalued because they are considered to be less than,” Whiteman said. “There’s still the pain that shows up in people’s abuse of substances or alcohol.”

She said having a day like Red Dress Day means conversations are moving in the right direction between Indigenous people and RCMP.

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“It gives meaning to resilience… we endured so much, but we also kept so much,” Whiteman said.

A support line is available for those impacted by missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people. For immediate emotional assistance, call 1-844-413-6649.

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