'It's long overdue for us as men to get involved,' says creator of Moose Hide Campaign
Wearing the small, yellow square symbolizes a commitment to respect and protect women
The co-founder of a national initiative to end violence against women is hoping his campaign will start to pick up momentum on Prince Edward Island.
Paul Lacerte co-founded the Moose Hide Campaign in 2011 — a movement that encourages men and boys to wear a small moose hide square pinned to their clothing, as a promise to respect and protect the women in their lives.
"Women have been bearing the burden of abuse, and the burden of advocacy for generations," said Lacerte.
"It's long overdue for us as men to get involved."
Lacerte, a member of British Columbia's Carrier Nation, said the idea for the campaign came after a moose hunting trip with his teenage daughter Raven Lacerte, along British Columbia's Route 16.
That stretch of road is known as the Highway of Tears for the women who have gone missing or been murdered along that and nearby routes in the past several decades.
Their hunt was successful, and the pair decided to cut hundreds of small squares from the hide of the moose they killed.
"And give it mostly to men and boys," said Lacerte.
"As an invitation into the movement toward ending violence against women and children, with a special focus on Indigenous women but not exclusively of course.
"We're in this Me Too era, and a lot of men and boys sometimes don't know what to do or don't know how to enter the space. Wearing this moose hide, it's not a silver bullet but it's an important first step," said Lacerte.
2 million squares across Canada
Lacerte says over 2 million squares of moose hide have been distributed across the country so far and have sparked conversations on everything from supporting victims of violence and abuse to mobilizing communities to increase safety for women. But here on Prince Edward Island, the campaign is still relatively unknown.
The Native Council of P.E.I. has been working to get the pins out to Islanders. The group says they just ordered more of the moose hide patches, and plan to distribute them on June 21, National Indigenous People's Day.
Island RCMP are also involved in the campaign, with many members sporting the pins and bringing them to public events.
The way that this campaign has grown is through conversations that lead to action, that lead to partnerships, that lead to change.— Paul Lacerte, Moose Hide Campaign
The Mi'kmaq Confederacy distributes them at events as well — the group said the pins, a physical symbol of a hidden problem, are conversation starters.
"When you see it, it creates a question: What is that? What is that pin all about? And it is a visible representation of the efforts to end family violence," said Marilyn Birch, director of child and family services with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy.
Building momentum in Atlantic Canada
Lacerte is hopeful that these efforts will help build momentum for the campaign on the Island. He said recent visits to Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have lead to increased awareness of the campaign elsewhere in Atlantic Canada — and he and his team hope to visit P.E.I. sometime soon to strengthen ties with local people and groups.
"The way that this campaign has grown is through conversations that lead to action, that lead to partnerships, that lead to change," said Lacerte.
In addition to the pins, the group has developed, and continues to work on, many resources to educate Canadians about violence against women.
The squares can be ordered for free, online, at the Moose Hide Campaign website.