On June 11, 2019, the Executive Policy Committee (EPC) directed the Winnipeg Public Service to review the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S+) to identify how the City of Winnipeg can respond to the Calls for Justice that are within the City’s jurisdiction, and report back with its review and recommendations that can be achieved within existing City of Winnipeg budgets. From July to September, a review of internal programs, policies and services was conducted by Indigenous Relations Division (IRD) in collaboration with other departments to help inform recommendations.
A report went before EPC on March 17, 2020 outlining the City’s existing initiatives as well as opportunities to enhance existing programs and create new ones. As a result, EPC recommended to Council that the Public Service develop and execute an implementation plan of the proposed initiatives, and include progress on these initiatives in the annual Journey of Reconciliation report to Council, on a going forward basis.
At its July 15, 2020 meeting, the Executive Policy Committee directed the Winnipeg Public Service to include a progress update on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice and other initiatives, including but not limited to the work of UN Safe Cities, that respond to the Calls for Justice, in the annual Winnipeg Indigenous Accord report and the Journey of Reconciliation report.
Days of Awareness
May 5th – National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited Peoples (MMIWG2S+)
May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirited Peoples (MMIWG2S+). To demonstrate support and to honour all MMIWG2S+ families, survivors, and advocates, the WINNIPEG sign and Esplanade Riel Bridge will be lit red and red dresses will be hung at City Hall (510 Main) and at all Winnipeg Public Libraries.
The Winnipeg Public Service, led by the Indigenous Relations Division, continues to collaborate with Giganawenimaanaanig to develop and implement a civic implementation plan that will be included in the Manitoba-developed implementation plan.
The City of Winnipeg’s key areas of focus are Safe Transportation, Training & Awareness, and Safe Spaces. This plan will work to ensure that; Urban Indigenous women and two-spirited voices are heard, as their voices will lead solutions, that appropriate mechanisms of responsibilities and accountabilities are created, and that all work is grounded in the spirit of “Nothing about us without us” and is foundational to the city of Winnipeg's actions.
Acknowledging June 3rd Anniversary to MMIWG2S+ Final Report and National Action Plan
June 3rd marks three-year anniversary of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and one year since the release of the National Action Plan.
To honour the day, the City will be assisting MMIWG2S+ advocates and families in creating a healing space at Rainbow Butterfly’s current location at Kildonan Park (Armstrong & Marymound Way) on Friday June 3rd from 8am – noon that will include a fire and tobacco offerings.
Over the past year, the City of Winnipeg has committed to the Calls for Justice by,
- Co-planning areas of focus with the MMIWG2S+ Implementation Planning Project team,
- Developing a City of Winnipeg MMIWG2S+ Working Group,
- Securing a permanent home as requested by community leads and collective voices for Rainbow Butterfly; and
- Commencing work on Calls for Justice 4.8, 8.1 & 17.9, specifically related to safe transportation for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ in Winnipeg.
We acknowledge that there is a long journey ahead, and now is the time for action, and urge all Winnipeggers to commit to taking action on the Calls for Justice.
The City of Winnipeg to date is developing a civic action plan and is in the stages of developing relations to act on the National Inquiry Calls for Justice, and National Action Plan. To date the activities include:
- Working with MMIWG2S+ organizations to identify priorities in Winnipeg,
- Developing an education and awareness campaign that earmarks days of awareness including October 4th and May 5th where the Winnipeg sign at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is lit, and educating City of Winnipeg staff on importance of the days and action to be taken on the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice.
- Committing to development of training and education that includes for targeting specific departments to carry out the Calls for Justice.
- Planting a garden at City Hall (510 Main street) that brings awareness to the National Inquiry and Calls for Justice, this will include with a video and drumming and blessing of the ground by an Elder.
- Launching of the Red Dress project with Winnipeg Public Library, where Red Dresses will hang in support of MMIWG2S+ and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited Peoples.
- Millennium Library will be hosting the Legacy of Hope travelling exhibit to bring education and awareness about the high rates of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and 2-Spirit (2SLGB2Q+), in order and to commemorate them.
- Review City of Winnipeg policies and by-laws that have created barriers for families and survivors of MMIWG2S+ to align and improve systems as defined within the Calls for Justice.
- Continue to create relationships with the Manitoba MMIWG2S+ Coalition its members and allies, family and survivors, to continue the journey of implementing the Calls for Justice.
October 4th – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day
In 2017, Manitoba was the first province to make October 4th the official day to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited People’s, Honouring and Awareness Day is a chance to honour and remember more than 1,200+ Indigenous women and girls missing or murdered throughout Canada.
October 4th marks Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited People’s Honouring and Awareness Day in Manitoba. To show our commitment to the 231 Calls for Justice, and National Action Plan, and to honour families, and survivors red dresses will be hung at city hall courtyard (510 Main Street) and at all Winnipeg Public Libraries, and the Esplanade Riel & the WINNIPEG sign will be lit in red.
October 4th has widely become a day of awareness, and education. The role of governments is paramount to the implementation of the National Action Plan and 231 Calls for Justice. The City of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Relations Division has been working closely with community to identify priorities to ensure the City of Winnipeg is a safe place for Indigenous women, girls, To date, that has included placement of Rainbow Butterfly in Kildonan Park, and development and implementation of Cultural Competency training for Vehicle for Hire drivers.
Further, the Indigenous Relation’s Division is a member of the Giganawenimaanaanig (formerly the MMIWG2S+ Implementation Advisory Committee, translates to “We all take care of them”) and provodes supports to community-led events. For more information contact email@example.com.
For anyone feeling overcome or overwhelmed emotional assistance is available at 1-844-413-6649, the national, toll-free 24/7 crisis line relating to MMIWG2S+ concerns; and 24/7 assistance is also available to all City of Winnipeg employees through LifeWorks, the City’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider, by calling 1-844-880-9142 (toll-free), or 1-877-338-0275 (TTY/hearing impaired).
As 2023 continues, the Winnipeg Public Service will focus on collaborating with Giganawenimaanaanig, and City of Winnipeg departments to develop and implement a civic implementation plan to end violence against Indigenous women and gender-diverse peoples. This plan will work to ensure that:
- Urban Indigenous women and two-spirited voices are heard, as they are required to lead solutions.
- Appropriate mechanisms of responsibilities and accountabilities are created. These mechanisms are paramount to ending violence, as the City’s responsibilities directly impact Urban Indigenous people.
- “Nothing about us without us” is honoured as foundational to the City’s actions. This principle builds on the fact that we are all stronger when we work together, and the work done thus far is a testament to this. Co-development, coordination and collaboration are key to ensuring real change and prevention.
Safe Transportation, Training & Awareness, and Safe Spaces will be emphasized as key components of the plan, with leadership from the Indigenous Relations Division. Above all, we will seek ways to play our part in addressing this crisis in partnership with First Nations, Métis and Inuit residents, Elders, political leaders, and community organizations.
November 13th – Commemoration of Helen Betty Osborne
In 1971, Helen Betty Osborne, a 19-year-old Cree woman with hopes to become a teacher was brutally stabbed to death with a screwdriver in The Pas in 1971. The entire town knew exactly who had committed the senseless murder but due to racism, sexism and indifference in the community, they kept their mouths closed.
Helen Bettys story was brought forward in the 1991 Aboriginal Justice Inquiry where it was found that that the main factors in her case were racism, sexism and indifference, and again in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, with references to the prolonged extent to concrete actions taken to preventing violence and genocide against Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited peoples.
Message from niece of Helen Betty Osborne:
"I want to thank everyone, for showing their support. Thank you for standing beside us and showing us that we are not alone. Thank you for honouring Helen Betty Osborne's life.
It's been 51 years since Helen Betty was brutally murdered. Betty went out with her friends on the evening of November 12, 1971. She was a 19-year-old Aboriginal woman from Norway House Cree Nation. She left home to attend school in The Pas, Manitoba. She had goals of becoming a teacher. Betty went out and she never made it home that night. In the early hours of November 13, 1971, four men made a choice. Here we are - 51 years later - still affected by their actions.
My Auntie's death impacted my life in so many ways. Her death impacted so many people - from family and friends, communities and towns, to people across the country. Betty's death has affected multiple generations already. The factors that led to her death, are still happening today. Racism, colonialism, injustice, stereotypes, and the inter-generational traumas that still affect our people so heavily.
We need to continue moving forward with the legacy that Helen Betty left behind. Our Indigenous Women, Girls, Men, Boys, Two-Spirit, and Gender Diverse communities deserve to feel safe. In order for that to happen, people need to stand up and demand change. It is so important to include Indigenous families, survivors, home communities, leadership, as well as, the many organizations that are working tirelessly to break cycles, knock down barriers, and help bridge the gaps.
My mom helped in keeping Betty's spirit alive. I plan to continue that on with my children. My hope is that the next generation doesn't have to suffer, in the ways that we have. I never got the chance to meet Betty, I wasn't even born yet. But I often wonder how different life would be, if that night simply never happened.
Remember Helen Betty Osborne.
Also remember that there are so many families suffering out there - still desperately searching for their loved ones. Still fighting for justice and equality. Things need to change. Change only needs to start with one person though. I ask that you continue to be a part of that change, in whatever way you can. We need our voices, thoughts, and opinions to be heard - at every level. Continue praying for our people; for strength, courage, hope, guidance, and most importantly - for healing.
As you remember Betty, please keep the families and loved ones of all Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Men, Boys, 2SLGBTQ communities in your thoughts and prayers as well. We're all feeling the same type of pain."
- Kimberley Osborne, niece of Helen Betty Osborne.
For more information
Calls for Justice Implementation
As the Final Report has shown, and within every encounter, each person has a role to play in order to combat violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Beyond those Calls aimed at governments or at specific industries or service providers, we encourage every Canadian to consider how they can give life to these Calls for Justice. Individuals can implement Calls for Justice by beginning with Calls for Justice 15.1 – 15.8 that call on all Canadians to:
- 15.1 – Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
- 15.2 – Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ history, cultures, pride, and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today.
- 15.3 – Develop knowledge and read the Final Report. Listen to the truths shared, and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people today.
- 15.4 – Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.
- 15.5 – Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.
- 15.6 – Protect, support, and promote the safety of women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people by acknowledging and respecting the value of every person and every community, as well as the right of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people to generate their own, self-determined solutions.
- 15.7 – Create time and space for relationships based on respect as human beings, supporting and embracing differences with kindness, love, and respect. Learn about Indigenous principles of relationship specific to those Nations or communities in your local area and work, and put them into practice in all of your relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
- 15.8 – Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls for Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles we set out.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why are there Red Dresses hanging in City places?
Red dresses are hung to show support and acknowledge that Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited peoples are sacred, they also bring awareness to the severity of violence against Indigenous
What do the Red Dresses symbolize?
In 2010 artist Jamie Black, created the Red Dress exhibit an aesthetic response to more than 1000 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada” by Jaime Black (Métis). It has become a National and International movement to hang Red Dresses to bring attention and show support to MMIWG2S+
An aesthetic response to more than 1000 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada” by Jaime Black (Métis). It started in 2010, and also includes Trans and Two-Spirit individuals who have gone missing or have been murdered. The red dresses act as a visual reminder all the missing women, girls, and Two-Spirit people Red dresses symbolize missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Are there certain days to hang the dresses?
No. hanging a red dress demonstrates support, but must be done in a good way, with intention and empathy to the families and survives of MMIWG2S+
Nationally and Internationally you will see more Red Dresses hung up on Oct 4th and May 5th
The Province of Manitoba passed a bill that October 4th of each year is to be known throughout Manitoba, and Canada, as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day.
Advocate organizations West Central Women's Resource Centre asked people to hang them around the city on Oct. 4 to raise awareness of the violence.
May 5th is also an international and national day of recognition, and to hang dresses.
Is the Red Dress Project connected to reconciliation?
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirited Peoples is resulted in a pattern of systemic racial and gendered human rights and Indigenous rights violations and abuses — perpetuated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state, designed to displace Indigenous Peoples from their land, social structures and governance and to eradicate their existence as Nations, communities, families and individuals rooted in the intent of the Indian Act, which also included the creation of Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop. The Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
“The significant, persistent and deliberate pattern of systemic racial and gendered human rights and Indigenous rights violations and abuses — perpetuated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state, designed to displace Indigenous Peoples from their land, social structures and governance and to eradicate their existence as Nations, communities, families and individuals — is the cause of the disappearances, murders and violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and @SLGBTQQIA people, and is genocide.”
A: Effects of Indian Act, settle contact, disconnect from culture and removing of children during Residential School
What is the City of Winnipeg doing about MMIWG2S+, the Calls for Justice and the National Action Plan?
Winnipeg’s Public Service is collaborating with Giganawenimaanaanig (family, advocate and survivor-led MMIWG2S+ Implementation Committee, which in English translates to “we all take care of them”) to develop and implement a civic implementation plan with focus on areas of Safe Transportation, Training & Awareness, and Safe Spaces. This plan will work to ensure that urban Indigenous women and two-spirited voices are heard and appropriate mechanisms of responsibility and accountability are created, and that all work in grounded in the spirit of “nothing about us, without us”.
Where can I learn more?
- Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan
- 2022 Progress Report on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan
- Amnesty International – 10 Ways to be a Genuine Ally with Indigenous Communities
Keep learning: use Winnipeg Public Libraries MMIWG2S+ Info Guide to connect with many resources. Visit guides.wpl.winnipeg.ca/mmiwgtwospirit
The National Inquiry’s 24/7 toll-free crisis line: 1-844-413-6649 After-care support line for Survivors, families, and others affected: 1-866-818-3505
What can I do to help?
- Commit to, and enact the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice for All Canadians (Calls for Justice 15.1 to 15.8)
- Listen to Indigenous people and show up for them
- Donate to organizations that support Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse peoples
- Learn how to be a good ally
- Hang a red dress