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EDITORIAL: Remembering the missing and murdered

In June 2019 the report Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released.

In June 2019 the report Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released.

The document unpacked the experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in the country.

The picture painted in Reclaiming Power and Place is bleak.

It's estimated between 2,500 to 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada, but it is impossible to truly quantify those affected by the crisis.

These stories of grief and loss span across Canada from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. Countless families have experienced the despair after the death of a loved one, or the uncertainty and fear when a loved one disappears.

Many families have been left reeling in the wake of a devastating loss, including Stoney Nakoda First Nation and Cochrane community members.

It was concluded thousands of Indigenous people are part of a genocide occurring in Canada— A genocide largely made possible by the actions and inactions of a government rooted in a history of colonialism.

Reclaiming Power and Place was released after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called on active healing for Indigenous communities through the process of Reconciliation.

Both documents have called on Canadians to be active participants in the process of Reconciliation and aid in the healing of wounds left by colonialism, Residential Schools, the 60s Scoops and other damaging systemic practices.

However, despite these calls to action Red Dress Day shows justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, LGBTQ2S+, two-spirited, men remain elusive.

Overall, statistics show one in four Indigenous women will experience violence in their lifetime and are three times more likely to experience frequent violence than non-Indigenous women. To this day, Indigenous women are six times more likely to be victims of homicide in comparison to non-Indigenous women.

Red Dress Day was originally established by Indigenous artist Jamie Black. The project was designed to bring awareness to the violence Indigenous women face. She began the tradition with an art installation in Winnipeg where she hung red dresses in trees as a reminder of those who have gone missing because of domestic and sexual violence.

The day serves to honour the memory of those who are missing and murdered and show action is being taken to address the crisis.

Red Dress Day in Cochrane and Stoney Nakoda, held on Wednesday, May 5, served as a call to action for Canadians to stand up and say no more.

These women's lives were cut short, their voices lost and their friends and families were left with wounds that will never fully heal.

Red Dress vigils across the country are a call to action to embrace the recommendations and actions called for in Reclaiming Power and Place and Truth and Reconciliation.

Reclaiming Power and Place said Canadian society has shown an "appalling apathy" in addressing these issues, but we have the opportunity to shift these views and push for change.

Reconciliation is made possible by the choices we make each and every day through the active call for justice, healing and societal change.

Justice for these families is not possible unless the actions called for are embodied by Canadians— Only when this occurs can true Reconciliation take place.