SASKATOON – Members of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU) have called for an end to violence against indigenous women and children, hoping men will lead the movement for change.
“Traditionally as men, our role was to stand as protectors and also to support our women,” said Regan Ratt-Misponas, indigenous student representative with the USSU. “Our women were very much regarded as the leaders of First Nations communities and First Nations reserves.”
On Wednesday, students were introduced to the “Moose Hide Campaign,” a grassroots, non-profit that encourages aboriginal and non-aboriginal men to wear pins made of the material.
Wearing the hide shows “a commitment to honour, respect and protect” women, according to the campaign website.
Attendees also covered a banner in signatures, showing support for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
“For some reason, likely racism [and] discrimination, they’re a more vulnerable group, so more has to be done,” said Sen. Lillian Dyck, with the Government of Canada.
Aboriginal women are three times more likely to experience violence than non-aboriginal women, according to a 2009 study conducted by Statistics Canada.
Combating the issue has multiple steps – an inquiry is only one of them, Sen. Dyck said.
“There’s probably a need to increase the number of shelters on reserves and there’s also a need to increase the number of shelters for women that are fleeing from violent or abusive relationships,” she said.
While he wears the moose hide symbol with pride, Ratt-Misponas said action is needed to create change.
“It happens with the people. It happens with the individuals that want to take a stand for something such as ending that violence towards women and children.”
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