Men in Prince George have taken a stand to end violence against Indigenous women and children as Moose Hide Campaign events were held throughout the city.
“Wearing the Moose Hide pin signifies one’s commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children in our lives and to hold one another accountable,” said Justin Foster, Aboriginal Student Coordinator at UNBC’s First Nations Centre, at the day’s opening ceremonies.
The Moose Hide Campaign was started as a grassroots movement by Paul Lacerte and his daughter Raven after a moose hunting trip in northwestern B.C.
The campaign see’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys wear a square of Moose Hide and fast from sunrise until sunset on Feb. 13 as a symbol of demonstrating a commitment to honouring and respecting women and children.
It has grown from a single recognition to ceremonies across Canada and events were held in Prince George to support the campaign’s Feb. 13 Provincial Gathering and Day of Fasting.
“The practice of fasting is also a hunger strike and we go on this hunger strike as a public non-violent protest against the societal norms that allowed injustice for indigenous women and children and a call to action to all men to end all forms of violence in our society,” said Foster.
“Participating in the campaign is also an act of reconciliation. It is an acknowledgement of the legacies of colonization, of residential schools, and the tragic reality of over 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.”
Events began at UNBC with keynote speakers and presentations, with afternoon sessions that include sharing circles and workshops taking place throughout the city at the College of New Caledonia (CNC), Prince George Native Friendship Centre, Haidith House, and the Fire Pit Cultural Drop-in Centre.
“Violence of any kind is never okay,” said UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “The Moose Hide campaign, in particular, is an opportunity for us at UNBC to participate in an open honest and compassionate conversation and we strive to ensure that we have a healthy and safe environment in our community.”
The was also the first year that CNC officially participated in the campaign.
“We have a particular duty to ensure that the men who are our students, our employees, our friends and family understand our role in ending violence against women,” said Chad Thompson, CNC’s vice-president academic. “We have to end in-action. We have to speak out when we see injustice and violence against women and children.”
In 2018, the campaign reached its milestone one-millionth pin and has now distributed more than 1.5 million pins across Canada, including over 200,000 in B.C. in the last year.
“I never want anyone to have to experience violence, verbally, physically or mentally. It’s not just acceptable anymore, it’s apparent with all of you here today we are on that journey together,” said Beverly Best, manager of Aboriginal student engagement at UNBC’s First Nations Centre.
“I hope you leave here today with inspiration to be a part of the solution in helping create a safer world for everyone.”
The Day of Fasting ends with a special breaking fast ceremony and feast for those who participated taking place in the evening at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre.
The campaign also aims to further expand its reach throughout B.C., Canada, and the United States and has an ambitious vision to see one million people fasting together in ceremony on Moose Hide Campaign Day in 2023.
You can learn more about the Moose Hide Campaign online.