May 5th day of awareness remembers missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) May 5th is National Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day, and participants in the day are being asked to utilize social media by sharing pictures of themselves wearing red.

Some participants this year held a virtual self-defense lesson. (Photo Courtesy of MMIWG Alaska)

Aqpik Charlene Apok, the Director of Gender Justice and Healing with the Native Movement, said the day of awareness was initiated in response to the 2013 murder of Hanna Harris in Montana. “This day is really important. We send our love and our support to the families of missing murdered Indigenous women and girls,” she said.

Apok said Alaska ranks fourth in the nation for the most missing and murdered indigenous girls. “We’re really calling to action community members. We’re sharing a lot of resources online,” she said.

One goal in putting on the event is to provide support and resources to those who are at risk for violence. “We’re sharing the resources with the community so that they can have a framework to build off of and to take action in their own communities, however that is, [so] they feel ready to do so.”

In previous years, various in-person events have marked the occasion. Despite social distancing this year, some events were able to continue virtually. “Last weekend we did a self-defense and awareness class through a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio,” Apok said.

“We stand in solidarity and we’re working towards justice and healing for our communities and our families... and so we really do this from a healing-centered approach on our pathway to demanding justice,” Apok said.

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