Alex Shymkiw, Aboriginal education support worker at Raft River School and vice principal Ryoko Whitney stand by a paper moose decorated with squares on which students wrote the names of men they consider to be positive male role models, as part of last year’s Moose Hide campaign in Clearwater. Photo submitted

Moose Hide campaign aims to educate

Event also serves as a means for men to stand against violence toward women and children

The Moose Hide campaign is coming back to Clearwater for its second run as a means for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men to stand against violence toward women and children.

Events will be taking place at the Dutch Lake Community Centre on Feb. 13, which include an open house beginning at 1 p.m. that gives people a chance to see displays, short videos and gather information on the campaign’s topic.

“It’s also a chance for the community to see what kinds of services we have and what’s available to them; if someone is going through abuse, it’s a chance for them to see they’re not alone, that they’re supported and it’s a chance for men to stand up,” said Melody Romeo, who works with Victim Services and is a co-organizer for the event.

“A lot of times it’s women who have to stand up against violence, but this is also a chance for the men to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right.’”

After the open house there will be words from emcee Derrick Whiteskycloud, a spiritual counselor, teacher and Metis artisan from Surrey, and who’ll start off the night before more presentations and acknowledgements of community champions.

There’ll also be an open mic portion during the event, which offers the opportunity for people to share their own stories with those in attendance.

“It’s just a chance for sharing stories, how you’re feeling and to create an awareness in the community; if you don’t talk about it and you always hide behind closed doors nothing will change,” said Cindy Wilgosh, who’s also helping organize the Moose Hide campaign in Clearwater.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got; now’s the time we need to stand up and create that awareness.”

Wilgosh added that with the participation of local schools, the campaign also helps pass the message to younger generations, which is important because it takes generations to move on from the culture of abuse.

Raft River School will be honouring those who students see as community champions and good male role models, before a ceremony of drumming and dances takes place.

“It’s also creating that awareness with the children,” Wilgosh said. “They’re becoming aware and learning the message, which is necessary because it takes generations to change.”

According to the campaign’s website, the Moose Hide campaign began in 2011 when founder Paul Lacerte and his daughter were hunting along Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, also known as the Highway of Tears due to the number of Indigenous women who have gone missing along that stretch of road.

The pair managed to find a moose early in the morning and while his daughter was preparing the animal, they began talking about the tragedies that have occurred on that highway.

A moment of inspiration struck and the father and daughter decided to tan the moose’s hide, cut it into little squares and give it to men to wear as a sign of their commitment to end violence against women and children.

As for the campaign in Clearwater, Wilgosh said it’s completely organized through volunteers and donations, so any of those wishing to help are encouraged to lend a hand.

“We’re always looking for more volunteers and more donations especially; any residual funds will be carried over to next year’s event,” she said.

Anyone wishing to attend the dinner is asked to RSVP by Feb. 8 as seating is limited.

To RSVP or for more information contact Wilgosh at 250-674-5330 or email at cindy.w@yellowheadcs.ca or contact Romeo at 250-674-8009 or email at melromeo@telus.net

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