VICTORIA -- More than 50 people gathered at steps of the B.C. legislature Wednesday to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People.

The day is also known as Red Dress Day, a day to honour and remember Indigenous people who have been lost to their communities. A recent report into missing and murdered Indigenous women indicates there have been more than 1,000 missing or murdered Indigenous women in the past four decades.

“Red Dress Day is about the visual representation of what this day represents,” said Victoria Native Friendship Centre clinical supervisor Michele Nault McIsaac. “That’s why you see people wearing red and using a red dress to bring our awareness back to the big issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous girls.”

The red dress began being used as a symbol of the disappearance and death of Indigenous women by Winnipeg based Métis artist Jaime Black in 2011. Since then, it has grown to represent the crisis faced by Indigenous women across the country.

“It took off because people could resonate with it,” said Nault McIsaac. “The colour red for the intensity and for the colour of blood for those who have gone.”

On the steps of the B.C. legislature, red dresses were hung in remembrance of the mothers, daughters and sisters who have been lost to violence.

“The red dress is an empty dress to symbolize the person that is missing, the person that we are trying to call back to their communities,” said rally organizer Sara Santana. “A red dress is also a prayer, it’s a hope and a wish that the ones that have gone missing from our homes and our hearts return to us.”

The significance of Red Dress Day is to commemorate and raise awareness of the disproportionate number of missing and murder Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Two years after the final report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, an action plan is expected in June of this year.