Animikii Volunteers at the Moose Hide Campaign’s 8th Annual Provincial Gathering and Day of Fasting
On February 13, Animikii team members Jen, Robyn, and Dakota were honoured to volunteer at the 8th Annual Provincial Gathering and Day of Fasting for the Moose Hide Campaign. Volunteering at this gathering is part of our Giving Back program, where we support Indigenous businesses and organizations that strive to benefit Indigenous communities and peoples across Turtle Island.
Animikii has been lucky to work with the Moose Hide Campaign, both directly and indirectly, over the years. We share office space at the Songhees Innovation Centre and have partnered on several different campaigns and projects, the latest being developing the online training platform alongside HelloCoolWorld.
One of the things we found at the Gathering is that while everyone that attends is united by one common purpose, to help end violence against women and children, everyone has their own reasons for attending. The same can be said for our volunteers, so we decided to ask them about their reasons for attending and their experience volunteering impacted their understanding of the Moose Hide Campaign.
Why did you decide to volunteer at the Moose Hide Provincial Gathering and Day of Fasting?
Jen: This was my first time being able to attend or volunteer at a Moose Hide Gathering and it was a very emotional experience. Nearly everyone I know, including myself, have been either directly or indirectly affected by violence against women and children and I found that even just by being present at an event like this was incredibly healing and empowering. It is so important that we change the narrative dictated to us by colonialism and patriarchal structures to one where women and children are not viewed as any less than their adult male counterparts and I really believe that the Moose Hide Campaign is on the front lines of this fight. I just wanted to play a part in a movement that says, “No, this is not okay. We need to change this and we won’t stop until our mothers, daughters, and grand-daughters are safe.”
Dakota: It was my first time volunteering at the event. I was able to take the day off from work to attend. I have family and friends who have been affected by violence. I chose to fast to show strength for those who need it. I support the movement to stand up against violence against women and children.
Robyn: Although I’m not Indigenous, I’m European settler heritage, I am the mother of two gorgeous Indigenous boys and part of a wonderful Indigenous family. Being part of an Indigenous family has opened my eyes to a Canada I didn’t really see before. I think many people of settler heritage are becoming aware of the truly horrific history that Canada is responsible for and the harm that has been done to Indigenous people from coast to coast to coast. I participated to honour the women and children of the past that couldn’t be here because they were victims of violence. I participated to honour the women of today, strong change makers leading the way to a better future. I participated to honour my boys' future wives, whether they are Indigenous or Non-Indigenous because all women and children deserve to be safe and treated respectfully.
How did you support the event?
Jen: I supported the event by volunteering at the registration desk and assisting attendees throughout the day by providing directions or answering questions. I also fasted for the event, which was difficult, but it was important that I show my support for everyone at the event and, by fasting, I felt that we were all working together, physically and spiritually, to achieve our goals.
Dakota: I volunteered and helped in any way I can during the events. I showed my support by fasting during the day of the event. I show my support every day with the Moosehide logo tattoo I have on my arm. It is a symbol of my dedication to ending violence against women and children.
Robyn: I volunteered at the workshop registration desk and helped in the registration area, passing any information needed onto the participants. I fasted with many other participants as a ceremony and strong prayer to end violence towards women and children. Lastly, I shared the live stream link on social media as well, to encourage those from afar to participate. We use technology to connect and collaborate as a community across Turtle Island and this was another opportunity to do that.
What part of the day did you find the most impactful?
Jen: This is a difficult question to answer because many parts of the event had an impact on me for different reasons. However, if I were to pick one, it would probably be listening to Raven (Lacerte) speak at the opening protocols about the importance of keeping your body and spirit healthy in order to protect and support the people you love. It struck me because often our first instinct is to give as much as we can until we have nothing left, but it’s just as important to care for yourself so you can help more in the long run.
Dakota: Walking to the legislature and hearing the children speak about how the campaign impacts them. It gives them hope and security for the future and lets them know we care. As a father, it is important for me to show everyone and everyone I care about that I stand up against violence.
Robyn: Hope. Hope displayed by all the brave participants that showed up to stand up against violence. Hope in all the words of love and encouragement expressed by all the wise speakers during the opening ceremony. Hope felt in participating in traditional ceremonies as a group and honouring the past and the strength of all the Indigenous ancestors that have brought us here to this moment in time to collaborate in making the positive change needed. Hope in launching a K-12 learning platform for educators. We still have so much work to do.
Why do you think it’s important that organizations like Animikii support events like the Moose Hide Gathering?
Jen: For me, having the opportunity to support something like the Moose Hide campaign as part of Animikii’s giving back strategy is one of the reasons I decided to work here. Volunteer and work are often seen as two separate things unless you work at a non-profit. That’s what I like about working at a social enterprise. You’re volunteering is intrinsically linked with your day-to-day job which makes the whole process more rewarding and less fractured. It also allows you to use your professional skills to promote organizations you truly believe in which not only improves the quality of work you do but also allows you to support your community in a way that you wouldn’t be able to at a for-profit business.
Dakota: Violence is all around us including in the workplace. If a business like Animikii stands up against violence towards women and children it will have an impact in everyday life. Stopping the systemic violence against women in the workplace, saying enough is enough.
Robyn: Animkii was formed with a vision to be a strong force of change in a world that is full of heartbreaking colonial histories that continue to harm Indigenous People today. Residential Schools, Indian Hospitals, Starlight Tours, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls….the list feels endless. We stand behind all Indigenous organizations that are trying to educate settler Canadians and improve the lives of the Indigenous Nations. Moose Hide has a clear vision to protect the ones you love. I was born ready to fight for that.