A men’s movement to end violence against aboriginal women and children is garnering the support of B.C. MLAs, police organizations and communities across Canada.
The Moose Hide Campaign held its third annual gathering on the steps of the B.C. legislature Feb. 13, with more than 200 aboriginal men, police officers, MLAs and women uniting against violence in aboriginal communities.
“For the first time this year, almost every MLA wore the moose hide in the legislative session,” said Paul LaCerte, Moose Hide organizer and executive director of the Victoria-based B.C. Association of Native Friendship Centres.
“It was a pretty strong signal of solidarity to see both (parties) of the house supporting this movement.”
Many attendees, MLAs included, also participated in a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with supporters across Canada, LaCerte said.
Moose Hide organizers met with Premier Christy Clark, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad and other provincial leaders last week to discuss the success of the anti-violence campaign in actively engaging aboriginal men.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also visited Victoria and pledged his support to grow the movement.
A small piece of moose hide worn on supporters’ clothing acts as a conversation-starter to show that a “paradigm shift” is happening, LaCerte said, as men recognize the role they can play in eliminating the stigma around confronting domestic violence.
“We’re trying to bring this issue out of the shadows, because as long as it’s lurking in the shadows, it’s never going to change,” he said.
While LaCerte praised support from provincial officials, he said the campaign still has years of work ahead to penetrate communities where violence often goes unreported.
Aboriginal women are three times more likely to be the victims of domestic violence in Canada than other women, and are also three times more likely to be killed by someone they know, according to Assembly of First Nations statistics.
Over the next year, LaCerte plans to build an administrative team to grow the Moose Hide Campaign throughout Canada, with support from the White Ribbon Campaign, a similar anti-violence mens movement.
“We’ve also scaled up the number of moose hides we’ve been able to give out and we’re now up to 14,000,” he said. “As long as it’s changing people’s behaviours in hard-to-reach places, that’s the key.”