Murdered and Missing Indigenous Woman and Girls
Written by Gaileen Flaman
It was hard to get out of bed this morning. Yet I did because something inside me compelled me to despite this feeling of heaviness. Then I remembered; it’s May 5 and the National Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, also known as #RedDressDay. Originally focusing on “sisters”, the scope has expanded to include 2-spirit, and gender-diverse people, as well as boys and men. My heart grew heavy as I read online articles and posts from the Native Women’s Association of Canada and Métis Nation of BC and the Assembly of First Nations to participate and raise awareness. Not only Indigenous peoples, but non-Indigenous folks and those from settler societies, to do the heavy lifting of educating themselves of this epidemic, of the National Inquiry, and of the 231 Calls for Justice.
I was distracted and while I sensed the conditioned impulse to “get to work”, my spirit would not allow me just yet. I felt an urge to smudge with sacred plant medicine, to acknowledge the family members of all creation, the elements of our wellness, the cycles of the seasons, and life, and womanhood. To cleanse my body, mind, and spirit and to also call in my ancestors to hold me in my distress and confusion and overwhelm. To smudge for the sisters, aunties, grannies, nieces, mothers and daughters who have dis-proportionally been stolen, violated, oppressed, aggressed upon, tricked, constrained and incarcerated. I smudged to open my eyes to the truth and beauty that surrounds me, to open my ears to the requests for assistance and whispers to guide me, to open my mouth to speak only kind, helpful, and thoughtful words, to open my heart with compassion, empathy, patience, and curiosity, and to walk on this earth gently, away from enemies and closer to Creator.
I felt the need to put on my red fuzzy onesie with the hearts all over it and go through my closet to pull out two of the three red dresses that live there, the two that I have danced in, sang in, experienced ecstatic joy, deep sorrow, and profound peace in. Sacred sage smoke curled around and up them, releasing their essence of freedom, sovereignty, and security as I spoke quiet words of my commitment to raise awareness, take action, and participate in healing the collective. I took them outside, to hang in the front yard alongside an older relation who has been sending the message this past year, faded to pink, reminding those who pass to keep awareness of MMIWG in our daily lives. Burning a braid of sweet-grass, the smoke sent my prayers of recovery, reparation, and decolonization to Creator.
This YouTube video (1:56 min) from the NWAC's president, Lorraine Whitman, honours the sacred lives that were taken too soon, with powerful words, to highlight and remember #MMIWG2S. IndigiNews has published stories of sisters who never made it home and those who show up in honour of them each day as an act of love and can be found here.