The noon bells of the Royal B.C. Museum carillon were attuned to the throb of drummers, who led hundreds from Thunderbird House to the legislature grounds in Thursday afternoon’s Walk to End Violence Against Women and Children.
Dozens tagged on to the steadily pacing crowd, led along Belleville Street by Lekwungen singer and drummer Bradley Dick (Yuxwelupton Qwal’qaxala). The procession gathered at the legislature lawns as the smell of incense permeated the air. Speeches ensued at the base of the Knowledge Totem, a symbol of past teachings and future hope, and the event concluded with a traditional round dance that encircled the legislature fountain.
For this 11th year of the Indigenous-led Moose Hide Campaign, Dick recognized more than a decade of people “standing up and making a commitment to end violence in the lives of women and children.”
While an estimated 250 people joined the walk in person, campaign co-founder Raven Lacerte, of the Lake Babine First Nation, said more than 400,000 people registered to attend the event via livestream.
“At our very first Moose Hide Campaign day in 2011, there were about 25 people, mostly men, that marched to the legislature to stand up against violence (against women and children) and to pledge to take action,” Lacerte said.
She asked participants to join the campaign’s vision of having one million Canadians fasting for the cause on the same day.
“It means the world that we are organizing ourselves to keep (women and children) safe, to end the violence that is such a shame on this country and is so unacceptable and it’s something we can do something about,” said Lacerte’s father Paul, who belongs to the Carrier First Nation and helped his daughter found the campaign.
“When I look out on the faces of every person, every relative in this crowd, I see that determination and I see that love and care.”
Theland Kicknosway, of the Walpole Island First Nation in southwestern Ontario, asked participants to share learning, healing and reflection with all other Canadians.
“Let’s continue to use out voices, our greatest tool we have,” Kicknosway said, adding that people should continue to discuss the issue of violence against women and children 365 days a year.
“Remember me when the sun comes up in the morning sky,” Raven Lacerte’s sister, Sage sang. “There I will be, soaring with an eagle so high, feeling free.”
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