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Moose Hide Campaign’s bid to end violence sees march pack B.C.’s capital

Initiative sparks 30 million conversations about ending violence against women and children

Raven Lacerte remembers when it was just about 20 men who fasted and marched to the steps of the B.C. legislature to raise awareness about violence against women and children.

That scene of the Moose Hide Campaign’s early days is far from the crush of people who packed Belleville Street in support of the cause on Thursday (May 16). The campaign has been sparking conversations on rooting out gender-based violence in Canada for the last 13 years and on Thursday it was expected to engage half a million people through marches, speeches and ceremonies.

After drummers led the large crowd from the Mungo Martin House to the Victoria legislature, Lacerte said the growing movement emphasized that violence has no place in society.

“Thank you for standing up and saying enough is enough and thank you for taking action today and every day to end violence against women and children in this country,” she told the crowd.

Lacerte co-founded the campaign with her father, Paul, after the idea first came to the pair during a hunting trip along the Highway of Tears – a notorious stretch of British Columbia linked to many cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“When we first started this work, I knew that my dad was doing it to keep my sisters and me safe,” she said as Paul stood beside her, holding Lacerte’s two-year-old daughter.

The Lacerte family during the Moose Hide Campaign’s gathering in Victoria on May 16. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

The campaign provides people with a moose hide pin to wear as a commitment to honour, respect and protect women and children. More than six million of those hand-cut pieces of hide have been distributed to date, with each one expected to spark five conversations about the issue and how to address it.

Those 30 million talks have been inspirational, Premier David Eby told the crowd as he called all British Columbians engage in the discussions.

“Moose Hide Campaign Day is a time to come together to call for an end to violence against women and children, which remains a devastating – yet entirely preventable – reality in our province,” Eby said in a statement, adding that the province is boosting gender-based violence prevention and awareness campaigns, as well as programs and supports for survivors.

The campaign highlights how there were 60,000 known cases of domestic violence in B.C. alone last year, but notes the real number is much larger as the majority of those incidents never get reported. Since launching in 2011, the initiative has invited men and boys to take part in the conversation since the vast majority of gender-based violence is perpetrated by them.

The Moose Hide Campaign spurred a large march in Victoria on May 16. The campaign aims to eradicate violence. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

“It was clear that women were not only being forced to bear the burden of domestic violence, but that they were also bearing the burden of advocating to make it stop,” Paul told a ceremony livestreamed across the country on Thursday that preceded the march.

This year’s campaign saw the launch of an online learning portal, called We Are Medicine, that includes teachings from traditional knowledge keepers and offers a practical guide to end violence. The launch came as Paul said they’ve heard from men who want to be part of the solution, but don’t know how to help.

“We hope you receive love and hope and inspiration and healing today,” he said. “We hope you finish this day with new skills and increased capacity to affect positive change.”

Marie Wilson, one of the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, told the Victoria ceremony that the TRC traced violence happening today – which disproportionately affects Indigenous communities – to the impacts of oppressive policies more than a century ago and forcing children to attend residential schools.

“We often heard from survivors of the violence that ruled residential schools and the continuing violence that trailed them for years afterwards,” Wilson said.

“No other population group in Canada’s history has endured such a deliberate, comprehensive and prolonged assault on their human rights as that of Aboriginal people.”

READ: Victoria’s Folktoria bridges generations and deep-rooted cultures

Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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