Students from Cambrian College launch the initiative to end domestic abuse against women and children
By Sarah Kaelas
SUDBURY – “I grew up seeing violence towards women, done by our own men, within my own community.”
This is why the Moose Hide Campaign is so important to Elder Kelly Senecal, the cultural facilitator at Cambrian College’s Wabnode Centre for Aboriginal Services.
The student-led initiative was launched on Feb. 11 at Cambrian College. It works towards bringing men of all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds together to end the cycle of domestic abuse against women and children.
Senecal learned about the Moose Hide Campaign after receiving a special delivery from Tribal Spirit Music. After reading through the Moose Hide Campaign pamphlets, he thought it would be a great initiative for Cambrian College.
A large portion of Cambrian students identify as Indigenous. Ozzie Osawamick is one of two students in charge of launching the campaign. Cambrian is an ideal spot to launch it, he says.
“Cambrian College has students from many walks of life,” says Osawamick. “It has International students, students from way up north, and students from the Aboriginal communities nearby.”
The Moose Hide Campaign originated in 2011, when an aboriginal man named Paul Lacerte founded the campaign as a way to protect his daughter, Raven, from future violence. The campaign asks men to honour, protect and respect the women and children in their lives.
As a symbol of taking the pledge against violence, students and faculty at Cambrian College were given a swatch of moose hide to pin on their clothes during the campaign launch in February.
“I thought that if it was driven by students, for students, that it would be more meaningful,” says Senecal.
Senecal remembers witnessing men committing violence against women and children in his own community.
“The alcohol within those men made them do things that they would never normally do. I didn’t want for me to think that violence was normal,” says Senecal.
Cambrian provides the right atmosphere for students to embrace the campaign, says Osawamick.
“It targets these individuals at an age where they’re just maturing, finding themselves, and becoming who they’re going to be in the future,” says Osawamick. “So having this campaign at Cambrian College involves this demographic at an age where they’re more susceptible to getting this information and retaining it.”
Like Senecal, the Moose Hide Campaign affects Osawamick on an emotional level.
“It gives me a sense of solidarity among men, to come together and take a stand against violence,” says Osawamick. “It means love. Love for family, love for close ones, love for friends, and overall just being respectful of one another.”
While there have been other initiatives going on simultaneously, the Moose Hide Campaign is different, says Senecal.
The Faceless Doll Project and the Red Dress Campaign honour missing and murdered Aboriginal women, whereas the Moose Hide Campaign targets people of all ethnicities.
“The Moose Hide Campaign is against violence towards all women of all nations,” says Senecal.
This is not just a one-time campaign, says Senecal. He has faith Cambrian College will continue supporting the Moose Hide Campaign. He plans to set up a mini booth outside of the Wabnode Centre where campaign materials will be available all year long.
Both Senecal and Osawamick want greater public mindfulness of domestic violence.
“Any awareness of the campaign is a step forward in fighting for men against violence towards women and children,” says Senecal.
Osawamick hopes that the campaign continues to spread and that it falls into the right hands.
“I hope that social agencies and activists that aren’t currently aware of the campaign can become informed,” says Osawamick. “I hope for a little bit of social change.”
According to the Moose Hide Campaign website, aboriginal women are three times more likely to experience domestic violence than non-aboriginal women, and to be killed by someone they know.
The campaign’s goal is to distribute one million moose hide swatches across Canada within the next 10 years.
For more information on the Moose Hide Campaign, visit www.moosehidecampaign.ca