Red dresses blow in the wind outside two of Nova Scotia’s tallest government buildings.
Photos of beloved sisters, mothers, daughters and aunts, missing or murdered in Atlantic Canada, are pinned to some. The ribbons decorate the others with the colors of the medicine wheel.
May 5 is Red Dress Day, a national day to raise awareness more than 1000 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S) in Canada. It is a day to remember and honor them, and to seek justice for a system that continues to leave so many people behind.
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“As a survivor I can only imagine the trauma our women are going through, I can only imagine the pain our families feel as their loved ones miss them,” said Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman, who hung dresses at City Hall and at the Halifax Province House on Wednesdays.
“They are still waiting for answers from the government.”
Red Dress Day, in which dresses hang from trees, windows and buildings, began in 2010, inspired by Jaime Black’s REDress project – an art installation and a visual reminder of the “staggering” number of aboriginal women victims of violence.
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Tanya Brooks, Chantal Moore, Loretta Saunders and Annie Mae Pictou Aquash are just a few of the women in Atlantic Canada lost to this violence, which the MMIWG National Inquiry called “genocide” on June 3, 2019.
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“Right now we have a national action plan and we need to see the government act because there are thousands more in Canada and around the world hanging these red dresses in the trees,” he said. said Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).
“It’s a voice, we cry out in the spotlight.”
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Almost three years ago, the survey launched 231 calls for justice from governments, institutions, service providers and individuals to address the root causes of the crisis. Since then, critics say little has been done to implement them.
“I don’t think there is an excuse,” Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman said.
“We believe it is appropriate that our women be protected first because our women are sacred, just like water.”
“I find a big part of the problem is that our women can’t afford security,” said Tayla Paul, a Mi’kmaw survivor who also hung dresses on Wednesday. “With the pandemic, things got worse.
“We see fully full shelters, we see a homeless population spilling into the streets, and when we are among the most vulnerable population, you have to understand that our women are in those numbers and people are exploiting our vulnerability. . They do it in all kinds of ways and it causes a lot more trauma.
In its first federal budget since the release of the National Inquiry findings, Ottawa committed $ 2.2 billion over five years and $ 160.9 million annually to tackle the crisis, addressing systemic racism in the health system, for example.
Whitman said these funds are years too late and called on the federal government to ensure that NWAC – the cone of the largest women’s organizations in Canada – plays a key role in determining the implementation of these programs and how the dollars are spent.
“It makes it really hard to accept and say that because of the pandemic they couldn’t go any further to stop this violence,” Whitman said.
“It was in play for many years before this pandemic.”