The noon bells of the Royal BC Museum carillon were in tune with the drummers, who led hundreds of people from Thunderbird House to the grounds of the Legislature during the March to End Violence Against Women and Children on Thursday afternoon.
Dozens of people joined the steadily advancing crowd, led along Belleville Street by Lekwungen singer and drummer Bradley Dick (Yuxwelupton Qwal’qaxala). The motorcade gathered on the lawns of the Legislative Assembly as the smell of incense permeated the air. Speeches followed at the base of the Totem of Knowledge, a symbol of past teachings and future hope, and the event ended with a traditional round dance that circled 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 committing to end violence in the lives of women and children.”
While around 250 people joined the march in person, campaign co-founder Raven Lacerte of Lake Babine First Nation said more than 400,000 people registered to attend the event via live broadcast.
“On our very first Moose Hide campaign day in 2011, there were about 25 people, mostly men, who marched to the Legislature to stand up against violence (against women and children) and commit to action,” said Lacerte.
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 to keep (women and children) safe, to end the violence that is such a disgrace to this country and is so unacceptable and it is something we can do against something,” said Lacerte’s father, Paul, who is from Carrier First Nation and helped his daughter found the campaign.
“When I look at the faces of every person, every parent in that crowd, I see that determination and I see that love and care.”
Theland Kicknosway, from Walpole Island First Nation in southwestern Ontario, asked participants to share learning, healing and reflection with all other Canadians.
“Let’s continue to use our 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 rises in the morning sky,” sang Sage, Raven Lacerte’s sister. “I’ll be there, soaring with an eagle so high, feeling free.”
Do you have a tip for the story? E-mail: [email protected]
Legislative Assembly of British ColumbiaFirst Nations womenAboriginal peoples