This is a story about men doing something about our propensity for violence against women.
It is also a story about what one man, an Indigenous hunter, can do when he listens to his daughter.
The daughter’s name is Raven. In 2011 she was moose hunting with her dad Paul on territory that is near the Highway of Tears – the notorious road in northern British Columbia between Prince George and Prince Rupert where dozens of women have gone missing or been murdered.
Since moose hunting involves an awful lot of waiting they had a lot of time to think. About the missing and murdered women, about violence against women, about daughters. As they were skinning the moose they had just brought down, an idea sprang to life. Since moose hides are used for cultural purposes and since they were near the highway that had brought so much sorrow within their Indigenous communities, why not use the hide to inspire men to take responsibility for ending violence towards women and children? Raven and her sisters cut that first moose hide into 25,000 tiny squares, stuck a simple safety pin in each of them and started handing them out. It started a movement.
The Moose Hide campaign’s objectives include:
- To stand up with women and children and to speak out against violence towards them.
- To support each other as men and to hold each other accountable.
- To teach our young boys about the true meaning of love and respect, and to be healthy role models for them.
- To heal ourselves as men and to support our brothers on their healing journey.
Seven years later the Moose Hide campaign has spread to high schools, colleges and universities, First Nations reserves, Friendship Centres, the RCMP and other police forces as well as government offices, Legislatures and even Parliament.
On February 15th, 2018 the one millionth moose hide patch was handed out by BC’s Premier, John Horgan to a woman whose family member was the victim of a serial killer.
What’s equally impressive is the variety of ways the Moose Hide campaign has created safe places for men to deal with their guilt, shame and anger. That includes men committed to the tough deep work of personal healing and police forces not only wearing the patch but fasting and attending workshops led by Indigenous people.
To Raven and Paul, each little moose hide square is a reminder of the healthy warrior spirit and the capacity of men to be better. An elegant example of the importance of a container for your content.
One million moose hide squares.
A lot of cutting.
A lot of conversation.
A lot of action.
A lot of healing.
A lot of love.
- There are currently more than 1200 murdered or missing Indigenous women in Canada. (source)
- Check out Raven’s presentation on the origins of Moose Hide.
I do not see myself as a trailblazer. There are many, many, many generations of ancestors that have led us to this path right now. I feel honoured to be a small part of it, but I’m on the backs of my ancestors in doing important work that needs to be done. There have been lots of matriarchs in my life that have helped guide me to where we are now. ~ Raven Lacerte
Musical selection this post is Foam Woman by Haida artist/lawyer/singer Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson. Powerful isn’t she? Yes that’s Bill Henderson and Claire Lawrence formerly of the band Chilliwack playing backup.