Statement by Dr. Philip Steenkamp on Red Dress Day

A billowy red dress in the rainy trees. Several red dresses hang in the distance.

Today is always a somber occasion, as we remember missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

But Red Dress Day takes on an added, terrible gravity with the revealing over the past year of the unmarked graves of Indigenous Children at the sites of former residential schools.

For communities already bearing the weight of so much loss, this past year has been acutely painful. And for all of us, it has been a reminder that the enduring, destructive legacy of colonialism continues to this day.

To honour those lost, and stand in solidarity, members of our community have hung red dresses in the trees along University Drive, near the lower Parking Lot #3.

I encourage all members of our RRU community to review the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And in particular, I’d ask you to read the 231 Calls for Justice while reflecting on the role our government, and indeed all of us, can play in helping meet those calls.

And to Indigenous members of our university community, to the Xwsepsum and Lekwungen People on whose Land we live, study and work, and most of all to families and survivors:

We join you in your mourning. I offer our renewed support, our deep condolences, and our commitment to stand with you and work with you on the path to justice and healing.