May 5th holds significance in British Columbia and the United States as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2 Spirits, also known as Red Dress Day. In 2019, the United States Senate passed a cosponsored resolution to declare May 5th a National Day of Awareness in honor of Hanna Harris, a tribal citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. May 5th was chosen for the National Day of Awareness because it was and still should be Hanna Harris’ birthday. Hanna went missing, and her family and community did not receive the resources needed to find her before her life was taken. To honor her legacy, Hanna’s Act authorizes the Department of Justice to assist local law enforcement with missing person cases.
When traveling through British Columbia and heading towards Alaska, it’s important to recognize the plight of Indigenous peoples, especially as we learn about and appreciate the culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw while visiting Alert Bay. Most missing people in Canada and the United States are Indigenous women. Even though Indigenous women only make up 5% of Canada’s population, they make up 10% of missing people cases in Canada. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the murder rate of Indigenous women on reservations in the United States is ten times higher than the national average, and homicide is the third leading cause of death among Indigenous girls and women between the ages of 10-24 (bia.gov). Alaska continues to be one of the states with the highest missing person rate for Indigenous women.
Guests and staff aboard National Geographic Sea Lion wore red today to support Indigenous women. We enjoyed beautiful Green Inlet and the traditional land of the Kwakwaka’wakw Peoples. After cruising during the morning, we stopped for our first Zodiac cruises and kayaking.
Photo caption and photographer: May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2 Spirits (MMIWG2S), also known as Red Dress Day. Red dresses are hung on a tree to raise awareness and illustrate the missing bodies of the people who should fill those dresses. This photo was taken outside the Big House on Alert Bay, land of the Kwakwaka’wakw People. Photo by Sharon Grainger