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

Shoebox Project reaches out to women in crisis

Boxes are distributed to transition homes

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Bouquet sales support big dreams in Greater Victoria

Country Grocer features holiday bouquets for Help Fill a Dream

Emerald Gloves boxing brings fights to Langford

Langford’s Matt Daniels dropped weight for debut

West Shore RCMP seizes more than $16,000 worth of drugs

Suspected cocaine, pills and cash seized from a Greater Victoria home

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Port Alberni convenience store robbed

Police still searching for suspect

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Liberals to act quickly if Saturday midnight deal deadline breached: source

Oh Friday, Canadian Union of Postal Workers said it would not bring the latest offers to a vote of its members

Police probe several allegations of sex assault at Toronto school

Police say they have learned of other incidents of alleged assault and sexual assault

Most Read