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Moose Hide Campaign raising awareness of violence against women and children

Vernon Linklater, a family violence worker at the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre,  speaks at the Moose Hide Campaign.
Vernon Linklater, a family violence worker at the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, speaks at the Moose Hide Campaign. Devon Latchuck / Global News

The Moose Hide Campaign is a movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men standing up against violence towards women and children.

The campaign was started nearly 10 years ago by an Indigenous father and daughter in British Columbia who were hunting moose near the Highway of Tears — where dozens of women have gone missing or been found murdered.

While skinning the moose, the pair realized the animal could be a significant symbol.

READ MORE: Increased violence leads to state of emergency at Onion Lake Cree Nation

Moose-hide pins are worn during the campaign to symbolize the bravery of these women and to address the changes needed to protect them. It quickly took off and events are held nation-wide every year.

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The campaign has been held annually at Saskatchewan Polytechnic for about five years.

Click to play video 'RCMP host Indigenous youth leadership workshop' RCMP host Indigenous youth leadership workshop
RCMP host Indigenous youth leadership workshop – Jan 9, 2020

Promoting gender equity, healthy relationships and positive ideas of masculinity are key factors to preventing gender-based violence, campaign organizers said.

“Nineteen per cent of our student population is Indigenous students, so to us, it’s a very important initiative and we want to make sure that more people with our organization understand what it’s all about and what it signifies,” Saskatchewan Polytechnic president Larry Rosia said.

READ MORE: Police-reported family violence against children and youth highest in Saskatchewan

Vernon Linklater, a family violence worker at the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, spoke at the event on Monday, explaining that anger is a natural emotion, but people need to learn to channel it in a healthy way.

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The Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre has a 22-week program for men who have committed violent acts, most often times against family members or loved ones. It teaches different ways to deal with family violence, self-inflicted violence and how to recognize negative habits.

READ MORE: Indigenous incarceration rates in Saskatchewan 65% federally, 75% provincially

“If you committed violence, you understand why you did it,” Linklater said. “Chances are it’s alcohol-related — 99 per cent. So if they can deal with their alcoholism or drug addiction, their violence can … stop.”

Over one million squares of moose hide have been distributed across Canada since the Moose Hide Campaign first began.