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A serious problem has been going on for many years surrounding the high statistics of indigenous women and girls who go missing or are murdered each year in Canada, the United States and other countries. Indigenous or native women and girls have a much higher vulnerability to violence, particularly in relation to crimes such as sex trafficking, abuse and more. 

From 2001 to 2015, the homicide rate for indigenous women in Canada was almost six times higher than for other women. In the United States, native women are at least two times as likely to experience violence than women from any other demographic. It is also estimated that the murder rates for native women are ten times higher than the national average

In recent years, many activists, journalists, law enforcement officers, charitable organizations and others have been calling for more attention to be paid to these inconsistencies. The desire is to increase public awareness about the issues while improving access to the urgent support that these women and girls so desperately need.

History of National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

An important impetus for the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls came through a Canadian artist named Jaime Black. In the early 2000s, Black used her influence to start the REDress project as an art installation to call attention to the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada and the US. This artistic expression led to hundreds of red dresses being donated for use in future installations and also was the start of REDress Day being celebrated on May 5. Each year, many different important spaces house REDress installations, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. in 2019. 

The official campaign for the United States to declare this as an awareness day was started in 2017 by two senators from Montana. In 2018, the US declared this same day that had started as REDress Day, but the name was adjusted to the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

How to Observe National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Get involved with this important day of awareness by participating in some of the following activities:

Learn More About Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

One of the most important ways to participate in this national day of awareness is to commit to getting more educated and informed, and then sharing this with others in your sphere of influence. Learn more about the statistics and needs by visiting the website of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the US Department of Indian Affairs or other important resources.  

Read the Apology to Native Peoples

In 2009, the United States Congress issued an acknowledgment and apology to the Native peoples for the way the US government has treated them with depredations and policies that were to the disadvantage of native and indigenous peoples. Access this apology online and read through it in observance of the National Day of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

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