Breaking the silence on violence

Aboriginal men commit to playing a role in ending domestic abuse

Butch Dick

Paul LaCerte knows the heartbreak and injustice that still ripple through the aboriginal population from years spent in B.C.’s residential school system.

He remembers the constant fear living under an alcoholic father, the stigma from more than a whisper of domestic violence in the community.

To break that silence, LaCerte is fostering a grassroots campaign of aboriginal men who want to end the cycle of abuse.

“It’s always been in our culture to protect our families, not hurt them,” said LaCerte, executive director of the B.C. Association of Native Friendship Centres.

Aboriginal women are three times more likely to be the victims of domestic violence in Canada than other women, according to Assembly of First Nations statistics. And a scathing Human Rights Watch report released last week shed light on a fractured police-aboriginal relationship in B.C., with allegations of underreported abuse.

On Friday, LaCerte joined more than 200 other aboriginal men at a morning-long conference aimed at finding ways to help reduce domestic violence, at the Harbour Towers hotel. Attendees later marched to the legislature where they committed to stand up to fight violence against women and children in their communities.

“We’re challenging men to stand up, speak out, change their behaviour, and support others to change their behaviour as well,” he said.

The men showed their support by wearing a small square of moose hide, not unlike the many movements that use ribbons and wristbands.

The movement is spreading across Canada, to aboriginal men in Matsqui and Kent penitentiaries and even to the Sarnia, Ont. police service, whose officers made pledges never to hit aboriginal women.

“That’s a pretty significant rock in the pond, and one we expect to ripple across the country,” LaCerte said.

Domestic violence is more prevalent in the Capital Region than many people think, said Tracy Lubick, development director at the Victoria Women’s Transition House.

Last year, the society received more than 2,000 calls to its 24-hour crisis line and sheltered 158 women and 62 children. A further 1,400 women were referred to the society’s victim support program.

“It’s really important we’re talking about working with men as allies,” Lubick said. “They need to be looking at their role in terms of ending violence, how they’re modelling their own behaviours.”

She hopes initiatives such as the moose hide campaign will continue to galvanize men and stop violence against women and children.

“We need a tectonic shift here at a community level, not just for native people,” LaCerte said. “It’s a lie that what happens in the home is nobody else’s business.”

To learn more about how to take action against domestic violence, visit transitionhouse.net or call 250-385-6611.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Tiny Yorkshire terrier Poppie survives days on remote island

ROAM rescue crews, family searched for dog, missing in Saanich for days

Researchers say ‘text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millenials’ skulls

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

VIDEO: Performers awe crowds at 2019 Indigenous Cultural Festival

Dancers and singers from First Nations across B.C. gather in Victoria

Hefty Peninsula Co-op donation brightens Mount Newton Centre Society’s 40th anniversary

Peninsula residents can borrow items from the centre’s medical ‘loan cupboard’ for up to three months

A mix of sun and cloud in Monday’s forecast

Plus a look ahead at your week

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Man presumed dead after boat capsizes in Columbia River

Search and rescue efforts recovered a life jacket

Crews fight wildfire along Sea-to-Sky Highway

A cause has not been determined, although a downed power line is suspected

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

Most Read