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February 22nd, 2023

NDP urges Liberals to create an alert to save Indigenous lives

WINNIPEG — On Wednesday, NDP Critic for Women and Gender Equality, Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre) urged the Liberal government to create a Red Dress Alert program to urgently notify the public when Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit person goes missing.

In a letter to the Minister of Public Safety, Gazan wrote that a Red Dress Alert would function similarly to the existing Amber Alerts. In these alerts, the public is notified of the suspected abduction of children who are in immediate danger.

“This would help increase the likelihood that someone who goes missing will be found,” wrote Gazan. “The call for a Red Dress Alert is one that is supported by families, survivors and grassroots advocates. It will support the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people, which is particularly critical in light of the fact that rates of violence increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Early alert programs like Amber Alerts have been proven to help ensure missing individuals are found safe. In Ontario, police say more than 90 per cent of Amber Alerts lead to safe recovery of children. 60 per cent of missing adult reports in 2021 were removed within 24 hours, while 89 per cent were removed within a week. Gazan stressed the urgency to put in place such a program to save Indigenous lives.

“A Red Dress Alert, particularly after the murders of Rebecca Contois, Marcedes Myran, Morgan Harris and Buffalo Woman by an alleged serial killer in Winnipeg, is urgently needed,” added Gazan. “Minister, as you know, the Prime Minister has recognized the crisis of MMIWG2S as an ongoing genocide. Establishing a nationwide Red Dress Alert is crucial to addressing this national emergency with the urgency it deserves.”