The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women documents in detail the reality of the violence to which Indigenous women and girls are subjected and issues 231 Calls for Justice to change that reality. It tells us that Indigenous women and girls go missing and are murdered at a rate 12 times higher than women from any other demographic group and, although they make up just 4% of the population of women in Canada, between 2001 and 2015, they made up 25% of all female homicide victims.
According to NWAC, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, government surveys indicate that Indigenous women are subjected to spousal abuse three times more often than non-Indigenous women. That abuse is likely to be more frequent and more severe, and more Indigenous women fear for their lives than women from other demographic groups. NWAC also notes that Indigenous women report family violence to the police less often than do other women.
Standing up against violence
As we consider and begin work to implement the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry, Indigenous communities are already standing up against violence towards women and children.
The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who have made a commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children in their lives and to work together with other men and boys to end violence.
The campaign identifies that the cycle of violence against women and children in Indigenous communities is rooted in the history of residential schools, colonization and ongoing racism.
It is distributing 10 million moose hide squares (a Naugahyde version is available for those who prefer not to wear animal skin) across Canada to anyone who supports the campaign’s mission, which includes:
- Standing up with women and children and speaking out against violence towards them
- Supporting each other as men and holding one another accountable
- Teaching young boys about the true meaning of love and respect while offering them healthy role models
- Healing as men and supporting one another’s healing journeys
One person at a time
The campaign also includes an educational component to assist elementary and secondary school teachers “in creating a future that is safe for all women and children:”
“Experience tells us that learning values and perceptions happens at a very early age. When done in an open, ethical and non-judgmental space, education can be a powerful platform for students to examine their own biases and those of their family and community. The Moose Hide Learning Journey is designed to support teachers in offering just such a learning environment while providing students with opportunities to explore alternative values and perspectives that respect women and children.”
The focus of the teaching platform, which includes videos and other teaching tools, is very much a personal one. Students and teachers work through a five-step journey, that begins with learning about violence against Indigenous women and children (Open My Eyes), and moves on to examine that violence at the community level (My Own Backyard). Participants then reflect on their own perspectives and biases about the value and roles of women in their family and community (Into Me I See), before taking the campaign pledge (My Pledge) and putting together a concrete plan to implement their pledge (Keep The Fire Burning).
Engaging young men
The 10 Men Challenge focuses on young men in grades 9 – 11, bringing them together for a day of fasting that ends with a community feast at sundown. The young men spend the day talking about violence against women in their community then participate in follow-up workshops as well as mentor younger boys in their schools. The goal is to help future generations of men “learn to love, honour and respect the women and girls in their lives.”
This is an important campaign that is gathering momentum across the country. Consider ordering some pins and cards to distribute in your community and/or making a donation.