Red Dress Day

May 03, 2024

On May 5 we commemorate Red Dress Day, a solemn occasion to raise awareness of the devastating epidemic of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S+), the commemoration began with the "REDress Project," an art installation created by Métis artist Jaime Black in 2010. The project features red dresses hung in public spaces to symbolize the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The red dresses serve as a visceral reminder of the thousands of Indigenous daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties, grandmothers and two-spirit family members and friends who have been victims of violence, often abducted assaulted or murdered without adequate investigation or justice. The colour red symbolizes both the bloodshed and the resilience of Indigenous communities, drawing attention to the urgent. Persistent and ongoing need for action to address the root causes of this epidemic. It is also said that the colour red transcends the physical world and calls to Indigenous ancestors in the spirit world.

Since Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls closed in 2019, the Government of Canada has been tasked with creating a National Action Plan to address the genocide. However, to date there has been too little progress made on the National Action Plan.

Indigenous women and girls face disproportionately high rates of violence due to systemic factors such as poverty, racism, legacies of colonialism, and lack of access to adequate support services. Red Dress Day is a call to action to address these systemic issues and to ensure the safety, dignity, and rights of Indigenous women and girls are respected and protected.

Red Dress Day amplifies the voices of Indigenous communities, advocates for justice and accountability, and demands concrete action from governments, law enforcement agencies, and broader society. It is a powerful way to honor the lives of those who have been lost, to support survivors, and to work towards a future where Indigenous women and girls can live free from violence and discrimination.

I encourage all Nova Scotians, groups, and organizations to participate in Red Dress Day activities, to demand action from all levels of government and our justice system, show solidarity with Indigenous communities, raise awareness about the ongoing crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and contribute to the collective effort to create a safer and more just society for all.

The preceding is a statement from Joseph Fraser, Director & CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

Quick Facts


  • Indigenous Women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than any other women in Canada.
  • While Indigenous women and girls made up only 5% of Canada’s total female population according to the 2016 Census, they account for 23% of all women and girls murdered in Canada between 2014 and 2018.