Mass murder, genocide, assault, abuse, sexual assault, racism

The REDress Project was founded to bring attention to a Canadian genocide. Aboriginal women in Canada are disappearing and also being murdered at an astronomical rate. This issue is compounded by the fact that the vast majority of the cases remain unsolved.

This is a nation-wide issue that has largely been ignored by media until recent years. Due to the RCMP’s unresponsiveness and the media’s neglect of the issue, Aboriginal women began tracking the rates of missing and murdered women independently. This verified what First Nations communities already knew.

The REDress project creator, Jaime Black explained the project as being one that “…focuses around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. It is an installation art project based on an aesthetic response to this critical national issue.”

The exhibit showcases red dresses that represent the Aboriginal women who have been murdered or gone missing across Canada.

The history

“Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada (MMIWG) refers to a human rights crisis that has only recently become a topic of discussion within national media. 

Indigenous women and communities, women’s groups, and international organizations have long called for action into the high and disproportionate rates of violence and the appalling numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

There is a lot of disagreement about the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) acknowledged in a 2014 report that there have been more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women between 1980 and 2012.” –the Canadian Encyclopedia (TCE)

The data

The RCMP has over 1,200 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. For over thirty years they have made up at least 16% of all female homicides. This is despite the fact that they make up less than 4% of the female Canadian population.

As mentioned earlier, there are Indigenous women‘s groups that have tracked the figures on missing and murdered Indigenous women for years. Their data shows that the 1,200 figure should be closer to 4,000.

For a better understanding, we need to put those numbers into perspective. Let’s translate the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women to the entire female population of Canada.

Canada has only 80 cities in the entire country with populations that exceed 32,000 people. This figure is important because if we were to apply the 1,200 RCMP cases to the entire female Canadian population, it becomes 32,365.

If we use the 4,000 figure from the Aboriginal women‘s group the numbers become even more overwhelming. There are only 26 cities in Canada with populations that exceed 108,000 people.

Either way, the number of Aboriginal women missing and murdered would be greater than the size of almost all Canadian towns.

The whole picture

The significant discrepancy in the figures can be explained by the likelihood of under-reporting. And the ineffective database. Not to mention, the failure to identify violence against Indigenous women and girls by ethnicity.

Tragically, Indigenous women above fourteen years old are almost four times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women. In fact, “..between 1997 and 2000, the homicide rate for Indigenous women was nearly seven times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous women.

In 2015, Aboriginal women made up 25% of all female homicides in Canada. To put it bluntly, Indigenous women are experiencing a genocide, the government is doing nothing to intervene. 

The Next Steps

We won’t have equality until all of us have equality. It really is an all or nothing equation. How can we rest while a genocide is occurring at home? Spread awareness about this issue. Support causes like the REDress Project. Start the conversation and provide information.

Reach out to your local police and provincial police. Find out what they are doing about this issue. Find out what they intend to do to protect Aboriginal women.

Listen to the stories of Indigenous women about their experiences. Learn the ways in which they could use your support. Work to be a good ally for the community.

I’d love to know…

What’s the most shocking thing you’ve learned from this post?