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

Driver charged in Central Saanich pedestrian’s death appears in court

Victim Kim Ward, 51, died on scene at the August 2018 crash

Second puppy killed by poisonous mushrooms in Victoria

Springer spaniel puppy died after consuming mushrooms in Fairfield neighbourhood

Western Speedway racing legend ‘The Flying Plumber’ turns 98

Dave Cooper recalls car crashes, his first win, and more

Nuisance tree will remain on perimeter of Fireman’s Park

Council re-affirm pledge to protecting healthy tree canopy

Central Saanich hosts NEAT program to help seniors connect with each other

Health promotion program aims to reduce social isolation among seniors

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Tickets available for Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame dinner and induction

Ryan Cochrane, Mike Piechnick and Rob Short among the inductees

Most Read