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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2019
Calgary Public Library is proud to host Red Dress Day at Central Library on Tuesday, November 19 in partnership with Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society. The day is to raise awareness of the ongoing national crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
Event attendees will have the opportunity to meet with Awo Taan staff and community advocates with a personal connection to MMIWG and be invited to take part in a Red Dress Workshop.
"This event will bring people from across all cultures to engage in meaningful conversations and promote awareness,” says Josie Nepinak, Executive Director, Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society.
A Red Dress Workshop invites Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to sit and create a small felt doll with a red dress. Each red dress is made is to represent a missing or murdered love one. A red dress can also represent one’s support of immediate action to address this crisis. The red dress dolls are part of a growing exhibition that will be displayed at select Calgary Public Library locations in 2020.
“The Library strives to be a safe space where meaningful conversations take place and community happens. I applaud Awo Taan for their Red Dress Campaign and we are proud to partner with them on this event in the hope that it will promote cross-cultural awareness, provide healing and comfort, and help fight racism,” says Mark Asberg, CEO, Calgary Public Library.
11:00 am Opening Prayer and Remarks
12:00 – 2:00 pm Red Dress Workshop
Red Dress Day at Central Library is a free, drop-in event. While the event is all-ages, there may be some sensitive subject matter. Emotional support staff will be on-site and trained facilitators will lead the workshop. Event details are available here.
For more information on the Red Dress Campaign, visit awotaan.org.
The Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society is dedicated to supporting the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual healing and wellbeing of women during their time of crisis and beyond. The shelter offers a full range of in-house crisis and outreach crisis, healing, prevention programs, Youth programs, Parent Link, Family wellness centre. Awo Taan provides wholistic support and guidance to women and children and families from all cultures.
MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls) is a national crisis that requires the public’s awareness and engagement. Indigenous women and girls are at higher risk and over-represented in sexual exploitation and trafficking compared to non-Indigenous populations.
The plight of Indigenous women and girls in Canada has gained international attention and in 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called on Canada to launch an inquiry and noted its “failure to provide adequate and effective responses” to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
An RCMP report, released in 2014 determined there were 1,017 homicides of Indigenous women between 1980 and 2012, revealing a rate of about 2.6 deaths a month. However, the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls noted that the 2014 RCMP report likely underestimated the true number. The inquiry also noted that Alberta had the highest number of MMWIG cases between 2015-2019.
Originating from The REDress Project, as an aesthetic response, the Red Dress has become an international symbol for MMIWG. The Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society launched the Red Dress Campaign earlier this year to provide support and awareness workshops to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Community outreach has included providing trained support workers to help those affected to share their stories in the hope that it will create a stronger call to action for all Canadians to address this urgent crisis.
The Calgary Public Library has partnered with Awo Taan on the November 19 public workshop and will display the final red dress exhibition in 2020. The Red Dress Campaign is funded by Alberta Culture and Tourism.
Calgary Public Library, with 740,000 members and 21 locations, has been inspiring the life stories of Calgarians for more than 100 years. It is currently the second largest library system in Canada and the sixth largest municipal library system in North America, with Calgarians borrowing more than 14.4 million physical and digital items and with 6.9 million in-person visits last year. The awe-inspiring 240,000 sq. ft. new Central Library — the newest gathering place for our city — opened on November 1, 2018.
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