In 2011, during a father-daughter moose-hunting trip along BC’s Highway of Tears, Paul Lacerte and his daughter Raven – members of the Carrier First Nation – were discussing the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women, and what they could do to help. “What if we could invite men to wear a moose hide patch in recognition of the need to protect women and children from violence?” they wondered. Five years and 250,000 moose hide squares later, they are about to bring their successful Moose Hide Campaign from BC and Alberta to the national level. On the eve of its October 5 launch in Ottawa, Paul and Raven speak about the journey so far…
“We were cleaning out a moose and talking about all of the murdered and missing Indigenous women. We wanted to do something, to be part of creating a safer place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and children,” Raven explains.
That day, Raven and her father decided to take the moose hide home, tan it, and cut it into squares that men could wear to demonstrate that they were taking a stand against violence. When men wear them, they are pledging accountability to the women and girls in their lives. Wearing a moosehide square also leads to conversations with strangers about the need to end violence. As the movement grew in BC, men began forming regular discussion circles. The BC legislature joined in, and the BC Regional Division of the RCMP has joined the campaign.
“It was powerful to have the RCMP take part”, says Paul. “Spousal abuse is not unknown in the force, and this acknowledgement, along with officers’ commitment to wear the moosehide patch, shows how seriously they take their role in reducing violence.”
The moose hides come from First Nations people in northern BC communities, and by paying approximately $2000 for each hide, the campaign supports traditional occupations like hunting and tanning.
“Overseeing production of the moose hide squares is my job,” said Raven Lacerte. “We’ve been working with Indigenous women who would otherwise be unemployed to make them.”
An annual fast has become part of the campaign too. “Our goal is to have one million men fast together in Canada on the same day, within four years of the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report,” says Paul.
While awareness building is important, the campaign is also conscious of the need to be able to refer perpetrators and victims of violence to appropriate community resources, and this is part of the national rollout plan. To find out more about these, visit the Moose Hide website.
According to Statistics Canada, a woman is killed every five days in a domestic homicide, and over 6,000 women and children are housed in emergency shelters, seeking refuge from abuse. The rate of abuse for Indigenous women is three times higher than the national average.
The Foundation has supported the Moosehide Campaign with a grant of $450,000.
29 September 2016