‘Sometimes hurt people hurt people’: Sask. recognizes gender-based violence

Kimiya Shokoohi

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Organizers behind a national initiative called the Moose Hide Campaign say traits such as humility and understanding are required to help break the cycle of abuse and violence against women.

“Sometimes hurt people hurt people. We want to create those spaces of healing for people that may be hurting,” said Raven Lacerte, co-founder of the Moose Hide Campaign, a British Columbia-born, Indigenous-led group that aims to engage males in ending violence against women and children.

The group is one of many organizations and groups in Canada, including in Saskatchewan, that are recognizing the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The day is held in remembrance of 14 women who were gunned down by a man on Dec. 6, 1989 at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.

The day is meant to support people who have experienced gender-based violence and honour those who have lost their lives.

For Lacerte and her father, who are behind the Moose Hide Campaign, the issue is one their British Columbia community knows well. Numerous Indigenous women have disappeared or been found murdered along the “highway of tears,” a 724-kilometre stretch of the Yellowhead Highway.

The City of Saskatoon has asked its employees to wear moose hide pins on Wednesday as a way of shining light on abusive behaviours that contribute to gender-based violence.

“Sparking these conversations is an important part of addressing these issues,” the city said in a news release.

At women’s shelters and transitional housing in northern Saskatchewan, communities are recognizing the day with candlelight vigils and presentations.

Many of the shelters are at capacity. The Prince Albert Safe Shelter for Women is calling for greater funding to help address these concerns.

“There’s another lack of resources for children who have witnessed this violence,” executive director Sherry Bates said.

Debbie Kovalsky, executive director at Battlefords Interval House, said staffing shortages and a lack of qualified candidates for jobs with the organization have complicated efforts to provide support.

“Trying to find qualified people to fill positions has been difficult,” Kovalsky said.

Because shelters are understaffed and often at capacity, organizations tend to face limitations in their efforts, she said.

“It doesn’t really give us time to do programming to help the moms,” said Sheila Mirasty, who manages the the Waskoosis Safe Shelter in Meadow Lake.

The shelter’s programs have included efforts to address the cycles of abuse, power and control, and development healthy practices such as mindfulness. One way the campaign does that is by holding fasting rituals where people in the community can reflect in humbling practice, Mirasty said.