Friday is Red Dress Day, which is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
According to Stats Canada, in 2021, Indigenous women were two and a half times as likely to be victims of homicide in British Columbia compared to non-Indigenous.
Cowichan Missing and Murdered Women, Men, and Children’s Monica Jones says this is not a new issue.
“It’s something that we’ve been dealing with for a lot of years,” says Jones. “Our sister went missing in 1977. It took the whole community to come together and everybody was searching everywhere. Months later we found her brutally beaten and murdered. Ever since they we decided that we needed answers.”
Jones says her family along with many others have no closure, with many cases remaining unsolved. She and her family continue to honour her sister since she was found 46 years ago.
“She was a happy-go-lucky person. She’d bring the sunshine in the rainstorm,” she says. “She left us two beautiful children that we treasure and we have gatherings in her name, and keep going until hopefully we find an answer.”
She says they are hoping to work with the younger generations to help them prevent what has happened from happening to them.
“Our main goal is to work with the younger generation,” says Jones. “To teach the younger generation safety and to be aware of their surroundings. Teach it to them and now and they will have a chance of survival.”
In an effort to mitigate future incidents, she hopes that communication between RCMP and families improves when they do have to search for loved ones.
“Communication is what we need between RCMP and families, and that’s something that’s got to change,” says Jones. “Like when something goes missing we can’t wait 24 or 48 hours, we have to go out looking immediately.”
She says that while events like Red Dress Day are helpful for awareness, people should remember that some are haunted by this issue every day.
“Every day it’s that way for our families, and we’ll never give up,” says Jones. “If anyone has any leads or clues, call the RCMP.”
Events are being held across Vancouver Island to commemorate the day. They ask you to wear red to show your support.