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Our Children Our Way Honours Our Lost & Missing Loved Ones on Red Dress Day – May 5

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Territory

The Our Children Our Way Society recognizes May 5th as Red Dress Day – a day to honour the beautiful lives lost to the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual+ (MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+) loved ones across Turtle Island.

It is nearly five years since the release of Reclaiming Power and Place: the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (June 2019) and yet we have not seen meaningful change. Our communities continue to face devastation, loss and heartbreak because of this crisis.

The Our Children Our Way Society’s recent report, Bringing Justice Home: Recommendations to Honour Our Lost & Missing Loved Ones” highlights the intersections between this crisis and other issues, such as the child welfare system failing to meet the needs of Indigenous children, youth and families. Within the child welfare system, children often lose their connections to family, community and culture, leaving them far more vulnerable to violence. The overinvolvement of the child welfare system in the lives of Indigenous families has persisted for generations, resulting in a disproportionate impact on Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals.

As shared by one Indigenous Child & Family Service Director:

“These moms whose children have been taken away … they are missing from their spirit. They can’t reconcile losing their children, generations of women who are missing from their spirits. They need help too. This is how it becomes a problem across generations, and this is from what we need to be building a space for healing from.”

The BC Representative for Children and Youth’s report “Missing” notes that “historical and ongoing systemic inequalities have created conditions of unbelonging for Indigenous children and youth and that these inequalities can be attributed to acts of colonial violence.” The report further highlights that “sixty-five per cent of the young people reported as lost or missing were Indigenous”; and that “Indigenous females (40 per cent) were found to be over-represented among the young people reported as lost or missing”.

The role the child welfare system plays in perpetuating ongoing harms must be recognized. Indigenous child and family services partners need to be included at the table when responses to this crisis are being developed.

In acknowledgement of Red Dress Day on May 5th, we call on all government partners to commit to engaging with the Our Children Our Way Society to establish an inter-Ministry table to strategize on how to effectively advance progress on the Calls for Justice.

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For further comment, please contact: Mary Teegee, Chair, Our Children Our Way Society, Phone: 250-612-8710

Download: Bringing Justice Home: Recommendations to Honour Our Lost & Missing Loved Ones

Link: OUR WOMYN ARE SACRED walk on May 5th, 2024