Indigenous Circle Banner, with the indigenous circle logo

Demanding justice and accountability on Red Dress day

Demanding justice and accountability on Red Dress day

Illustration of a red dress with a Indigenous circle logo and an OPSEU SEFPO logo
Illustration of a red dress with a Indigenous circle logo and an OPSEU SEFPO logo

It’s Red Dress day, a solemn reminder of Canada’s deep rooted racism and continued mistreatment of Indigenous peoples.

Red Dress day is also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit People (MMIWG2S), marked every May 5. It’s a day to honour and remember the innocent women, girls and two spirit people who have been killed because of ongoing colonial gender-based violence.

For decades, Indigenous communities have witnessed alarmingly high rates of violence against women, girls and two spirit people. The disproportionate statistics of those missing and murdered are shameful. Statistics Canada reports that violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, girls and two spirit people are 12 times higher than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts in Canada.

Gender-based violence continues to be an instrument of colonialism. These ongoing disappearances, violence, murders and unresolved cases is a national human rights crisis and cannot be ignored.

We are still waiting for the federal and provincial governments to act on the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The national inquiry heard from more than 2,380 elders, family members and Indigenous survivors of violence, with thousands more untold stories. The final report with 231 Calls to Justice recommended that action be taken by all levels of government.

It has been three years since the report and there are still no answers or a national action plan to address the violence that Indigenous women, girls and two spirit people continue to be subjected to.

This delay also means that during the pandemic, these troubling numbers keep increasing. We continue to see the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous, Black and racialized people, particularly those who are identify as women and are gender diverse. In addition, those living in remote areas including in the north are more vulnerable to higher rates of violence and abuse. The government cannot stall anymore.  We must end this!

OPSEU/SEFPO honours the thousands of stolen sisters, two spirit and gender diverse persons from Indigenous communities and families. It is our responsibility as labour activists to raise awareness, advocate for change and amplify the calls to action by Indigenous leaders and their communities. We must hold our elected leaders and all levels of governments accountable to implement the full 231 Calls to Justice immediately. Walking the path of truth and reconciliation requires action. Together, we will continue to fight for accountability and demand justice.

In solidarity,

JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
Krista Maracle, OPSEU/SEFPO Indigenous Circle, Chair