Last Wednesday, Moose Hide Campaign took the streets of downtown Victoria, marching from the Conference Centre to the Legislature buildings in an aim to end violence against women and children.
The eighth annual event marked the launch of the new education initiative aimed at students from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Black Press caught up with Paul Lacerte, who founded the campaign with his daughter Raven back in 2011, to hear more about the new initiative.
“It’s brilliant. There’s a few focuses in the platform, [but] the first and possibly the most important one is training and support for teachers,” says Lacerte. “It’s a complicated subject matter to introduce, regardless of [a student’s] age so [it provides] guidelines for teachers to build safety in the classroom to create environments where there can be positive learning.”
The online platform provides teachers with lesson plans that introduce ideas to students in an age appropriate way while providing supports for students to become “activated around the issue.”
“So the nice thing is it’s an Indigenous innovation for the benefit of all Canadians,” says Lacerte. “So the language and the Indigenous imagery that we use … it’s a great example of reconciliation in action.”
Charlene Bearhead, Moose Hide Campaign’s Education Lead, spearheaded the education portion of the project.
“She wrote the education recommendations as part of the 94 calls to action from the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) in their final report,” says Lacerte. “So she comes to our team now with an incredible amount of skills and knowledge and capacity in this space.”
The program has received formal support from the B.C. Teachers Federation along with the Ministry of Education. It has since been formally launched throughout the country as an open source “shareware” resource that is accessible through the Moose Hide Campaign’s website.
Lacerte and his daughter, Raven, started the campaign along the Highway of Tears — a usual hunting spot for the pair — after hunting and harvesting a moose.
“It was such a profound moment because we had been talking about the Highway of Tears and we wanted to do something to help wipe away those tears and create positive change,” says Lacerte.
They decided to clean the moose’s hide and cut it into squares and invite men to wear them as a way to “invite them into the space.”
“It’s not a women’s issue, it’s all of our issue but it’s men that need to change [their] behaviour predominantly,” says Lacerte.
He says his four daughters are his biggest inspiration.
“I was pretty compelled to try to do something to protect them … so we just started with our friends … and then it just took off. Right now, across Canada we’re at 1.5 million squares of moose hide and there is over a thousand communities in the country that have created and implemented Moose Hide projects to reduce violence against women and children — so it’s definitely getting people’s attention.”
A tobacco ceremony was held at the official launch of the education initiative. Little red bundles were handed out to the crowd and participants were asked to send out good intentions for a few moments of silence. Afterwards the bundles were re-collected to be burnt later on.
“When people are talking about the education platform, we ask that that is included so people know there is a deep care about those kids that are coming hand-in-hand with this new education resource,” says Lacerte.