District of Saanich staff members (left to right) Christ Murphy, Cristine Caravaca and Jason Jones hung up red dresses outside municipal hall on May 4 in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

District of Saanich staff members (left to right) Christ Murphy, Cristine Caravaca and Jason Jones hung up red dresses outside municipal hall on May 4 in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich marks Red Dress Day with gowns hung outside municipal hall

May 5 is National Day of Remembrance for missing and murdered Indigenous people

Two red dresses will sway in the wind outside Saanich Municipal Hall through early May to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people, and serve as a symbol for the district’s opposition to racism and violence.

After receiving a request from Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, on May 3 council unanimously agreed to join in the stand against the acts of racism and violence committed against First Nations people, explained Mayor Fred Haynes.

READ ALSO: Red Dress Day honours Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous people

Council also proclaimed May 5 as the National Day of Remembrance for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People in the district. A proclamation will be made annually and red dresses will hang at municipal hall to recognize those who’ve gone missing or been murdered.

The support shown by several Island municipalities followed an incident involving two men caught on camera removing red dresses from the trees alongside the Island Highway near Ladysmith.

Saanich council would like to see “a red dress trail from (municipal hall) up the highway” to send a message the violence cannot be ignored, Haynes said.

READ ALSO: Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Two dresses hang high near the front and back entrances to municipal hall off Vernon Avenue and will remain for a week after the day of remembrance on May 5.

Cristine Caravaca, senior manager of the community services division, emphasized that Saanich marking Red Dress Day is important because it will help draw attention to missing and murdered Indigenous peoples and garner community support for the movement. For information Caravaca recommends visiting lilreddressproject.ca.


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