Everyone has a responsibility to end violence against women: Sinclair

·3 min read

A ceremony in Winnipeg this week saw the Honourable Murray Sinclair gifted the three millionth moose hide pin that has been handed out since 2011, as part of a campaign that looks to stand up to and speak out against violence against Indigenous women and girls.

On Thursday, representatives from the Moose Hide Campaign were in Winnipeg where they presented Sinclair, a long-time Indigenous leader and former senator, with their three millionth pin at an event at the University of Manitoba campus.

Started in 2011 by Paul and Raven Lacerte, an Indigenous father and daughter from the Carrier First Nation in B.C., the campaign hands out moose hide pins across Canada, and asks that all who wear the pins make a commitment to “honour, respect and protect the women and children in your life, and speak out against gender-based and domestic violence.”

The campaign has set a goal of handing out 10 million of the pins across Canada, as they look to bring awareness and start conversations about violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Sinclair, who is the former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), said on Thursday that preventing violence against women and girls is an act of reconciliation.

“Doing what we can to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is a key part of reconciliation,” Sinclair said. “We cannot continue to allow this type of pattern to continue in our lives, because it shows so badly on us as a society.

“It shows that we don’t care, so we have to understand that we must care, we must show that to society and to the rest of the world.”

Sinclair said it is up to all men to stand up to violence against women, and said that no one should be silent when they witness abuse or mistreatment.

“Even if you are not an abuser, even if you are not the one doing this, you have a responsibility to stop it, and to stand between our sisters and whoever might be abusing them,” he said.

“Never be afraid to do that, and never be afraid to stand up for your sisters, and nieces, and daughters and granddaughters, because they need you.”

A study released this week by Statistics Canada showed that Indigenous women across the country continue to experience much higher rates of violence and sexual assault than non-Indigenous women.

According to the report, 63% of Indigenous women have experienced physical or sexual assault in their lifetime in Canada, while 33% of non-Indigenous Canadians having experienced physical assault or sexual assault.

The pin gifted to Sinclair on Thursday was presented to him by Raven Lacerte, a founder of and ambassador for the national campaign, and she spoke on Thursday about why she believes the pins and the message behind them are so important.

“We are asking folks to take action,” Lacerte said.

“If you wear this hide you promise not to harm women and girls and children, and to be personally accountable to those in your family, and in your community.

“We are asking all men and boys in Canada to stand up and speak out against voices against women and girls in Canada.”

Thursday’s presentation in Winnipeg was held in advance of the upcoming national Moose Hide Campaign Day, a virtual event planned for May 12, where more than 300,000 registered participants will take part in “a day of gathering, ceremony, and education about gender-based violence and reconciliation.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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