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Thinking about Red Dress day for elementary students?

What can I do for Elementary Children for Red Dress Day?

May the 5th is coming soon! This is Red Dress Day, an important day to remember Indigenous Women and girls, though every day is important to remember them, this day has been set aside to acknowledge and honour the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in this place known as Canada today.

It is so important that when you are teaching about MMIWG you have taken the time to learn about the report, the day and its meaning. So please before you start the work in the classroom, make sure you take the time to learn as much as you can first.

Background Information:

There was a national inquiry about the over representation of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. Here is a link to the report. The National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

Here is a link to the Lil’ Red Dress Project for some more information:

Resources for the classroom:

I have been asked recently by elementary school educators. “What are some resources we can use for Red Dress Day for the younger children?” There is a great resource for students grade 4 an up, called “Their Voices will guide us”

This has got me thinking about the younger grades and how can we share with them difficult information and how much information we should share? As I thought through this more what I kept coming back to was acknowledging and honouring Indigenous women. The younger grades can understand and see connections to family and people in our families. I think this is the place where we can start this work. Sharing the strength of Indigenous women, how through an Indigenous perspective we honour women in our communities. If we build the foundation of knowledge and understanding of strong and brilliant Indigenous women and girls, then in grade 4 we can start to unpack MMIWG. This will help with the why, it is so important to learn about MMIWG because we have already created the foundation of why Indigenous women in our culture are so important.

Resources for younger grades:

Be a Good Ancestor- Leona Prince & Gabrielle Prince & Carla Joseph

Not only do I love the women who wrote this book, I also love this book. This book can help us understand the connections Indigenous people have with the generations before and how this is passed down to the next generation. This helps us understand the importance of people in our families and communities.

There isn’t just one book out there for connections from a mother, there are many. Here is a selection of my favourite ones.

I hope- Monique Grey Smith & Gabreille Grimard

I sang you down from the stars- Tasha Spillett-Summer & Michaela Goade

A day with Yayah- Nicola Campbell & Juliet Flett

The connection from mother to child is an important role for women and to see these Indigenous women and how their connection to their children is so important, tells us the stories of how we honour women as mothers. Through the eyes of Indigenous women, they tell us their stories of hope for the next generation. Showing us how important Indigenous mothers are.

Finding the strength of Indigenous women. I see that in this book “I’m finding my talk” by Rebecca Thomas and Pauline Young. If you are wanting to bring in strong women’s voices, this is the book for you. Rebecca Thomas is also a poet and has other books out that could be used in the higher grades.

The last resource that I will share is the beautiful book “Magical Beings of Haida Gwaii” by Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Sara Davidson. From the website is states:

“For those who came before us, who shared another way of seeing the world. For those today and in the future, who honour and keep alive ancient teachings. We honour the Magical Beings of Haida Gwaii.”

This book shares with the reader connections to Indigenous identity and Indigenous worldviews. Sharing with us the importance of how all things are related and interconnected. This is so important when we are talking about how important Indigenous women and girls are in our families and communities. There is a teacher’s guide and colouring book also available with this book.

These are just some ideas on how you can bring in Indigenous women’s stories into the younger grades for Red Dress Day. Every eight days an Indigenous women or girl goes missing. This is critically important to learn about and teach about.

Higher Education resource:

When I teach about MMIWG in higher education to preservice teachers, this is what I share with them. For teachers learning: Is it really genocide?

It is so important that when you are teaching about MMIWG you have taken the time to learn about the report, the day and its meaning. So please before you start the work, make sure you take the time to learn as much as you can first.

If you have some more great resources and ideas, I would love to hear about them.


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