Six students and several supervisors from Prairie View Outreach and E.W. Pratt High School in High Prairie, showed their commitment to taking a stand to end violence against women and children by participating in the Moose Hide Campaign’s 24-hour fast Feb. 25-26.
Constance Cardinal and Kiana Moses from Prairie View Outreach, and E.W. Pratt students Michael Thunder, Hunter Laderoute, David Cardinal and Theron Mindel Whitecap-Bear, stepped up to the challenge and pledged their commitment to the Moose Hide Campaign.
Organizer and Indigenous success coach for High Prairie School Division, Jamie Chalifoux, says he organized the event to create awareness and to share Indigenous culture with the students.
High Prairie School Division schools all support students in learning about and experiencing pride in their culture. The Moose Hide Campaign, which “is a grassroots movement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men and boys who are standing up against violence towards women and children”, presents a meaningful opportunity for students and supervisors to learn more about Indigenous culture.
The symbol of the campaign is a small square of moose hide. It signifies the wearer’s commitment to honour, respect, and protect the women and children in your life and to work together with other men to end violence against women and children.
The challenge day began for the participants with a hearty spaghetti lunch prepared at Prairie View Outreach, followed by a community pipe ceremony conducted by Elder Albert Desjarlais and supported by his wife, Elder Alma Desjarlais. The pipe ceremony helped the group set a purpose and intent for the fast, allowing the participants to express their gratitude and ask for support during the 24 hours.
A feast of salmon, corn and berries followed the pipe ceremony and helped bond the group in purpose by sharing the food from the same bowls.
The students used a variety of strategies to get through the fast. Mindel Whitecap-Bear did homework and kept activity to a minimum while Thunder said sleeping was his preferred strategy. All agreed the last few hours of the fast was the most challenging, but at its conclusion, each of the students said they would definitely participate in the Moose Hide Challenge again next year.
Cardinal says she took part to show her support for the campaign.
“Fasting is giving up part of yourself and it is a way of resetting and recharging myself personally and my relationship with the Creator.”
Laderoute adds he was “thankful to have a plate ready for [him] at home every supper, and Moses says she was pleased to be able to participate in the community pipe ceremony and learn more about her culture.
To promote the Moose Hide Campaign to the community prior to the fast, Prairie View Outreach students Mya Cardinal and Constance Cardinal took time out of their school day Feb. 24 to distribute Moose Hide Campaign pins and information at Freson Bros.
The words of Senator Murray Sinclair, chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, sums up the importance of the campaign
“The Moose Hide Campaign provides a sacred space to contribute in our nation’s healing journey. It is a movement that calls upon people to speak up, take action, to educate and support each other!” says Sinclair.
Prairie View principal Jamie Babcock and HPSD Indigenous success coach Diane Bellerose also participated.
More information about the Moose Hide Campaign, can be found at moosehidecam- paign.ca.