Polite Canada Logo

Winnipeg teens lead Red Dress Day initiatives at school

Every year on May 5, Canada observes Red Dress Day, a poignant tribute to raise awareness for the devastating epidemic of violence against Indigenous women. Originally inspired by a Métis artist’s project in 2010, the day features red dresses displayed in public spaces such as windows, trees, and other areas to symbolize the absence of these victims and to raise awareness.

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, two grade 12 students, Katie Prosolowski and Chloe Telenko, made it their mission to spread information around Red Dress Day and its importance through a series of activities. Both girls recruited students from across the different programs in their school to help create an art piece that honours victims.

“People need to understand that this is still happening, that Indigenous women and girls are still going missing,” said Chloe, who is Red River Métis and wants to honour her family’s history by showing her culture to other students who are not aware. Chloe made red dress earrings and taught fellow students how to bead and make ribbon skirts while sharing tips for smudging.

Both girls hope that the lessons shared from Red Dress Day will stay with students beyond May 5th. They also asked students from around the school to help in making a sculpture that honours missing and murdered Indigenous women. Both girls were able to involve students from different programs, including those studying fashion, welding, carpentry, math, and others to create multiple sculptures.

Their school also shared a video with both staff and students to teach them more about Red Dress Day and how they can raise awareness. Both girls suggested that talking to an adult or elderly person in the community is an effective way to start, and that by doing so, you are supporting a noble cause.

Several initiatives were observed across Canada to raise awareness around Red Dress Day. In Manitoba, hundreds gathered and marched through Winnipeg’s downtown to mark Red Dress Day on Sunday. Manitoba also partnered with the federal government on a Red Dress Alert for missing Indigenous women and girls.