May 5th is a National Day of Awareness for the plight of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls, half of whom will experience sexual abuse and/or assault during their lives. The murder and abuse of this demographic is considered by Canada to be a “a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which especially targets women, girls and 2SLGBT2QIA people.” In 2014, Canadian police reported 1,181 Indigenous women and girls who were missing or murdered; however, this number is likely closer to 4,000 due to underreporting and ineffective data records. The staff of National Geographic Venture hoped to draw attention to this sobering reality by wearing red shirts to show our solidarity and support of safe, equitable futures for women, girls, and two-spirit Indigenous peoples. We hope to join and support others in exposing the injustices Indigenous women continue to experience in the 21st century. Red Dress Day was originally inspired by Jaime Black’s REDress installation. The hanging of red dresses symbolizes the missing and murdered women and girls and the crisis as a whole.
As the day progressed, staff presented talks on geology, cephalopods, and iPhone photography. In between talks, staff scanned the horizon for charismatic megafauna. A few glimpses of distant humpback whales and an occasional lonely sea otter greeted guests as the ship moved north along the inner coast of Vancouver.