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Winnipeg MP behind push for Red Dress Alert system

NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan speaks during a news conference about the continued loss of missing and murdered Indigenous women, Tuesday, May 2, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan speaks during a news conference about the continued loss of missing and murdered Indigenous women, Tuesday, May 2, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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The federal government has begun consultations on a public notification system for missing Indigenous women and girls.

The motion to create the system, coined the Red Dress Alert, was put forward by Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan, and was passed in the spring.

“We had unanimous consent across all party lines,” Gazan told CTV News Winnipeg.

“This tells me that every Member of Parliament in the House recognizes that this is an emergency, and there's an urgent need to implement a Red Dress Alert.”

Gazan says the consultations are still preliminary, but include discussions with frontline workers, community organizations, and families.

She imagines the Red Dress Alert system operating like an Amber Alert, and would send a phone notification when an Indigenous woman disappears.

Gazan is also calling on the public to contact their MPs, MLAs and city councillors about the system.

"Let them know that this is a key issue and that they expect a Red Dress Alert system to be implemented as quickly as possible."

She notes the opposition NDP needs to keep pressuring the governing Liberals for action on several key Indigenous issues.

“It's been over four years since the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls was released. They have barely responded to any calls for justice. This crisis is getting worse, it is not getting better.”

Gazan is urging the public to contact their MPs, MLAs and city councillors to urge them to implement the alert system as soon as possible.

‘THERE IS A NATIONAL ONGOING CRISIS'

Matthieu Perrotin, a spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree, told CTV News Winnipeg in an email the Liberals’ 2023 budget committed $2.5 million to establish an Indigenous roundtable, with a clear directive ‘to prioritize discussions on implementing a Red Dress Alert in order to put an end to this national crisis.’

“There is a national, ongoing crisis of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ individuals in this country. It must come to an end,” Perrotin said in the email.

“We’re working to develop a system that helps ensure when an Indigenous woman, girl, or 2SLGBTQI+ person goes missing, they can be found.”

Perrotin also noted the government is committed to implementing the calls to justice, noting Minister Anandasangaree recently announced additional funding for 31 Indigenous-led projects that respond directly to a number of them.

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