We acknowledge that the UBC Vancouver campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam).

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National Day of Awareness for MMIWG2S

May 03, 2023 |

May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S). It is a day to honour and remember the countless Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people who have experienced disproportionate violence in Canada. This day is also known as Red Dress Day, commemorated by wearing red or displaying red clothing to symbolize the bloodshed and the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.

The MMIWG2S crisis is a tragic reality that has affected Indigenous communities in Canada for decades. According to Statistics Canada, the homicide rate for Indigenous victims was seven times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous people in 2020. It is not only a human rights issue but also a public health issue. The high rates of violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people have a significant impact on their physical and mental health, contributing to the intergenerational trauma experienced by their communities and families. Research has shown that the trauma caused by violence can lead to a range of negative health outcomes, including chronic pain, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Moreover, the historical and systemic issues that contribute to the crisis, such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare and education, and inadequate housing, also have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. For example, Indigenous peoples are more likely to experience chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease due to the effects of colonization and ongoing marginalization.

At SPPH, Red Dress Day is an opportunity to reflect on the links between MMIWG2S and public health, which is crucial for developing effective solutions to this crisis and working towards health equity. Taking into account the social, economic, and political determinants of health, this includes working to dismantle the systemic barriers that prevent Indigenous peoples from accessing adequate healthcare, education, and housing, as well as addressing the intergenerational trauma caused by colonialism and residential schools.

On this day of awareness, we must remember that the crisis of MMIWG2S is ongoing and that there is still much work to be done. It is a call to action for all Canadians to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and to work towards systemic change. We invite you to participate and support in ways that you can: wear red, take a moment to engage with some of the resources below, or find in-person and virtual events being held across Canada or in your community to commemorate this important day: