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Indigenous Relations Division

Background

Oct 4th - Honouring and Awareness - Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited People’s

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  to honour families and survivors, red dresses will be hung at city hall (510 Main) and at all Winnipeg Public Libraries.

Further, the Indigenous Relation’s Division will be supporting the MMIWG2S+ community and their respective events including being present and honouring the space at Kildonan Park with Rainbow Butterfly.

Additional information for supports and resources will also be available where red dresses are hung. 

Further, we encourage Winnipeggers to read the executive summary of to the Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 231 MMIWG Calls for Justice and commit to Calls for Justice 15.1 – 15.8.

For more information on the Red Dress Project as well as MMIWG2S+ in Winnipeg, we invite you to watch the following videos. “The Red Dress Project at the National Museum of the American Indian” (2:39 in length) outlines the meaning and intent of the project, while “This River” (19:29 in length) is a short documentary film that offers an Indigenous perspective on the devastating experience of searching for a loved one who has disappeared.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why are there Red Dresses hanging in City places?

National Red Dress Day is a unified expression of those who are mourning; to condemn the reality that we are living in a genocide against Indigenous women and girls that is rooted in colonialism, discrimination and genocide that’s responsible for the high rates of violence, states the 2019 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

The City has hung the dresses to bring awareness to violence against Indigenous Women and Girls and Two Spirited Peoples. 

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 doing about MMIWG2S+ and the 231 Calls for Justice?

  • Development and Implementation of an Education and Awareness Campaign (includes Red Dress Project) Calls for Justice with specific departments (7.1, 15.2)
  • Working with community, and Indigenous-led organizations to develop an Implementation Plan to take action on the Calls for Justice the City of Winnipeg
  • Working with other levels of government to explore and address intersecting issues and polices that perpetuate MMIWG2S+
  • Reviewing Policies and By-laws to take steps in decolonizing policies and processes
  • Will adopt the National Action Plan

How can I learn more?

  • Read the Final Report and National Calls for Justice
  • Check out other books and resources

What can I do to help?

  1. “Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people”
  2. “Help hold all governments accountable to act on the calls for justice”
  3. “Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally”
  4. “Develop knowledge and read the final report” and National Action Plan Learn about the Calls for Justice….
  5. “Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area”

2021 June 3rd Garden


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: indigenousrelations@winnipeg.ca

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.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)

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.

May 5th as a National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited Peoples (MMIWG2S+)

MMIWG2S+ Red dress hanging at city hall building

May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited Peoples. To honour the day, families, survivors advocates and MMMIWG2S+ organizations, red dresses are hung to raise awareness on violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited peoples. 

On this day, the City of Winnipeg will honour the day by hanging red dresses at city hall (510 Main) for the day and will host a ceremonial fire from 10am – 11am, and all Winnipeg Public Libraries will have red dresses on display, from May 5th – May 16th.

We would like to acknowledge the tireless heart-work of the MMIWG2S+ Advisory Committee, and Implementation Team for their guidance as we find our way to walk together to stop and prevent violence to Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+. Miigwech.


Waniskahtan - Legacy of Hope Foundation

From November 17, 2021 through January 15, 2022

The Millennium Library is hosting Waniskahtan, a travelling exhibit from the Legacy of Hope Foundation. Through information panels and video, the exhibit aims to raise awareness on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirted Peoples (MMIWG2S+) and the disproportionate rates of violence affecting MMIWG2S+. This exhibit from the Legacy of Hope Foundation was guided by a Project Advisory Committee that included families of MMIWG2S+ and an Elder.

Visit Winnipeg.ca/library for hours of Millennium Library, 251 Donald Street. The exhibit is located on the second floor. The site is fully accessible. This exhibit was brought to Winnipeg by the Indigenous Relations Division, City of Winnipeg.

Learn about the issue of MMIWG2S+ including the National Inquiry on the library’s Info Guide. This online resource includes library-recommended reading, online videos, podcasts, research and reports - and more.

May 5th as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

In 2017, a congressional resolution to designate May 5th as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was been introduced. The resolution was drafted in memory of Hanna Harris (Northern Cheyenne) who was murdered July 2013. The resolution was first introduced in April 2016 on the same day that RoyLynn Rides Horse (Crow) passed away after having been beaten, burned, and left in a field to die. Nearly 200 tribal, national, and state organizations supported this resolution. 

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 Honouring and Awareness Day is a chance to honour and remember more than 1,200 Indigenous women and girls missing or murdered throughout Canada.

In advance of this important date, over 100 City employees gathered virtually on October 2, 2020, to learn about the National Inquiry from Dr. Karine Duhamel, Director of Research for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Dr. Duhamel shared the history that lead up to the National Inquiry, the progression of the inquiry, and guidance on how individuals can begin implementing the Calls for Justice in their personal and professional lives.

The Indigenous Relations Division has invited Tracie Loest, to share her story and share what individuals can do to act on the issues of MMIWG2S+.



The 4 Pathways that Maintain Colonial Violence that were explored in the report include:

  1. Historical, multigenerational and intergenerational trauma;
  2. Social and economic marginalization;
  3. Maintaining the status quo and institutional lack of will; and
  4. Ignoring the agency and expertise of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people

The Report included 231 Calls for Justice.

Our Journey

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.

Last update: November 8, 2022

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