Why Indigenous boys and men choose to wear braids
'I wear a braid to honour my ancestors,' says Michael Linklater, founder of #BoysWithBraids
Michael Linklater says he cannot remember when he last cut his hair.
He recalls being teased and bullied by classmates during his early years of schooling. After seeing his own sons being bullied in school for wearing braids, he decided to start a campaign called Boys With Braids.
"There is so many boys out there who have grown their hair, and have cut it, because they have been teased," said Linklater.
He wanted to bring awareness and create an understanding of the cultural significance of why Indigenous boys and men wear a braid.
Indigenous people aren't a homogenous group, and each nation has different teachings on why boys and men wear braids.
CBC Indigenous asked readers why they choose to wear braids.
For some, braids are a symbol of strength, wisdom, and are something that reflects their identity.
Many of our readers stated the braid has a cultural significance, and many felt a connection to the creator, their ancestors and the earth.
Daniel Garcia says, "I love the process of braiding my son's hair. It's a beautiful way to bond with him. While braiding it I offer prayers, giving thanks for his kind heart, kind mind and kind spirit."
Alanna Trudeau tells her seven-year-old son "that his hair carries his memories too, and all the things he learned about being a goalie, his hair helps him keep those memories."
For many who wear a braid for cultural reasons, the only time they cut their hair is when they are grieving the loss of loved ones.
"When my brother died, I offered my hair to the Creator for safe passage for his spirit. He was a mighty warrior in our clan. My hair is not a cheap, disposable haircut you can buy for 15 bucks at a store on a corner. It's my connection to the Creator and shows the patience and care I have with myself as well," says Kyle Daniels.
It's been just over a year since Linklater started his national campaign. Since then, there have been similar events in Regina and Edmonton, and there is one coming up on March 10 in Winnipeg.
Join the conversation on Facebook at CBC Indigenous. #BoysWithBraids