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Artwork of Indigenous women in colourful dresses.

Ancestral Women Taking Back Their Dresses – 1990 (Collection of the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Regina) by Sherry Farrell Racette.

An Event in Honour of Red Dress Day

"They deserved to live their lives just like everyone else..."

May 2, 2023 — 

May 5 marks The National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People, also known as Red Dress Day. This day honours the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual Plus (MMIWG2S+) people in Canada by encouraging learning and building awareness to end violence against MMIWG2S+.

On Thursday, May 4, Indigenous Engagement and Communications and the Centre for Human Rights Research are holding An Event in Honour of Red Dress Day: Seminar and Red Dress Pin Workshop.

Kayla Lariviere, Engagement Lead for Indigenous Engagement and Communications and one of the event organizers, says it’s meaningful for UM to host this event and demonstrate its support for MMIWG2S+.

“With a growing Indigenous community on campus, there are members who have been personally impacted by this,” says Lariviere. “And as Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people continue to go missing and murdered in our communities, we’re reminded of the ongoing racism, mistreatment and marginalization that continues in Canada.”

Gerri-Lee Pangman will lead the red dress pin workshop at Thursday’s event. A member of Peguis First Nation, Pangman has tragically lost two family members to violence.

“My personal connection to this day began when I was six,” says Pangman. “My Aunty Jennifer Johnston was murdered in 1980 in front of me and my sister while we were sleeping in our home. In 2013, my sister Jennifer McPherson was murdered in B.C.”

Pangman says she turned to art and ceremony to help her cope with the loss in her family and continues working to raise awareness on the issue.

“This is a day to pay respect to these beautiful souls that walked this earth and were tragically taken and stolen from us. They deserved to live their lives just like everyone else. All the time that was lost with them, we will forever think of the what ifs we could have shared with them. And the love that they gave us, we will miss forever,” says Pangman.

Guests who attend the event can expect to be welcomed into an inclusive and safe space for a half day filled with learning, engaging and understanding.

The event will begin with a seminar from community builder Sandra DeLaronde, who has made it her life’s work to end violence and support families of missing and murdered women, girls and 2-Spirited persons. Following lunch from local Indigenous business Brownees Urban Bistro, guests can gather in community for the red dress pin workshop led by Pangman. This event is open to all students, staff and faculty at the University, and is intended as a way to honour and connect while opening a dialogue on UM campuses.

Lariviere hopes to welcome a diverse group to the event, with people in various stages of learning and understanding of MMIWG2S+.

“For those who are not as familiar with the on-going crisis, I hope this will provide them with new knowledge and leave them encouraged to further their learning,” she says. “For those with a deeper understanding and even personal connections to MMIWG2S+, I hope they leave with some new insights from our speaker and that they feel supported knowing there are folks in our campus community who care about MMIWG2S+ and that we can all work together on moving forward.”

For more details about the event, visit the Indigenous Events Calendar. Registration is required.

In addition to the on-campus event on May 4, the UM community is encouraged to attend other events happening across the country on May 5 like the Red Dress Round Dance at Portage and Main (12:00 p.m.), followed by the Memorial March to The Forks.

For Support: 

  • Toll free 24/7 support line, 1-844-413-6649, in English, Anishnaabemowin (Ojibway), Cree, Inuktitut and French. 
  • Indian Residential Schools Help Line, 1-866-925-4419. Available 24/7 for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.  

To Learn: 

  • National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, two volumes, 2019: and 


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