Red dresses already up on light posts in downtown St. Catharines


Published May 2, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Sometime early this morning, volunteers started hanging red dresses from the light standards in downtown St. Catharines on St. Paul St.

Back in 2016, the Government of Canada launched the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls which demonstrated the disproportionally high levels of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls, and the systemic injustices which contribute to this crisis.

St. Catharines has long participated in Red Dress Day, held annually on May 5, to honour the lives of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited individuals whose lives have been taken as a result of the ongoing MMIWG2S crisis in Canada.

And some of the volunteers got an three day head-start on this year’s as the light standards along St. Paul St in downtown St. Catharines saw the red dresses hung in the early hours this morning (May 2).

Jillian Boyce of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics identifies that “Aboriginal females (220 violent incidents per 1,000 people) had an overall rate of violent victimization that was double that of Aboriginal males (110 per 1,000).

That rate is close to triple that of non-Aboriginal females (81 per 1,000) and more than triple that of non-Aboriginal males (66 per 1,000).

Boyce noted, “It must also be acknowledged that these statistics are even higher as a result of unreported cases of gender-based violence.”

A similar display was held at St. Catharines from February 7 to 14 as that week as a red dress was hung at St. Catharines City Hall to support and create awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA Peoples.

The movement is called the REDress Project and according to St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, the colour red is key.

“The colour red is the only colour the spirits can see,” he posted. “Red is really a calling back of the spirits of these women and allowing them a chance to be among us and have their voices heard through their family members and community.”

This year, the National Day of Awareness for MMIWG, a walk is being held on May 5 starting at St. Catharines City Hall at 6 pm and marching to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

Indigenous advocate and St. Catharines resident Fallon Farinacci hung the red dress off the tree at City Hall on February 7 to kick off the week of REDress Project. (Photo: Facebook)

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