Paniguvluk, Stephanie Papik, one of our newest board members, shares her reflections as she makes preparation to again attend and witness The Moose Hide Campaign in Victoria BC, one of a network of global gatherings to end violence against all women and children worldwide.
The Moose Hide Campaign
I would like to tell you about The Moose Hide Campaign, a Canadian grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys, now with global gatherings, focused initially on ending violence to indigenous women, and now to ending violence to all women and children worldwide. These are my reflections as I prepare to attend this year’s gathering in February.
Since its beginning, I and many others have been called upon to witness the evolution and iterations of the Campaign’s responsiveness to many perspectives of Canadians, while always Being inclusive of everyone. I have watched how the Campaign has expanded from a regional gathering in British Columbia, to Canada-wide, and now international with people leading Moose Hide gatherings as far away as Australia. I have seen the Campaign offer a non-leather symbolic pin for vegan participants.
In preparing for this year’s Moose Hide gathering, I learned that in the first four weeks of university or college, one in four women in Canada experiences a sexual assault on campus. One in four! This hits home for me as my own children approach the age of attending post-secondary education. This is an uncomfortable truth that we all need to be aware of and talk about so we can collectively shift the culture to one that allows our women to have safe access to basic things like education. I appreciate the Moose Hide Campaign creating space for this transformation.
I also appreciate that the Moose Hide gatherings embrace ancestral tools like circle practice. Circle practice creates a container to hold us while we unpack some very uncomfortable truths about the culture of the day. Gathering in circle creates space for the pause - pause to ground, pause to reflect, pause to acknowledge and honor those for having courage to step into the darkness, face the truths and to find light in the darkness. It helps us see the light of compassion, acceptance, forgiveness. It shines light on a path of intentional thoughtful actions, to let go of old habits and create new ones that will contribute to the culture change that is being called for.
Like any good journey, we witness obstacles and challenges. One of these challenges is to become aware of our blind spots by asking ourselves: How may I be contributing to this current culture? Am I aware of the ripple effect if my own words and actions? How can we see our collective blind spots? This is where humility steps in and we ask for help, or someone offers feedback and we listen, even when the feedback is hard to hear.
Through the help of close loved ones, I have begun my journey of identifying some of my blind spots. Being a second-generation residential school survivor, one of my blind spots has been a lack of empathy and compassion for those closest to me, especially during times when it is most needed. A learned survival behavior of some residential school survivors passed on inter-generationally. Passed on inter-generationally until we make the time to pause, to become aware and to shift our ways of being. Now, I ask my husband to give me a gentle nudge when I could be more empathic in a situation with a loved one. His gentle nudge reminds me to take a deep breath, release and re-approach the situation with kindness and compassion, both to myself and to my loved one. A work in progress for sure. Letting go of old habits and creating new ones, taking time, an intentional practice and patience.
With this learning, as I prepare for this year’s event, I will be curious about what other old habits may cause unintended harm to those with whom I interact. And with this preparation, I am reminded of a story I recently heard while listening to a Tara Brach podcast, a retelling of The Story of the Porcupines and One Long and Cold Winter.
“In a forest inhabited by many winged and fur creatures, including many porcupines. The porcupine lived dispersed across the forest. As winter deepened, the porcupines began to gather closer to stay warm. As they snuggled up to each other, they started to prick one another and received tiny wounds. Unhappy about the pricks and wounds, they decided spreading out would be a better option after all. Then, as winter continued, the nights continued to get even colder. This time the porcupines came together again, and this time with the recognition, that in doing so there would be tiny wounds. They became mindful to approach each other with care, compassion and forgiveness, and this is how they survived the long and cold winters until the warm spring and summer months approached.”
This is what I have to offer in acknowledging my responsibility of being a witness to the Moose Hide Campaign. Thank you for taking the time to read my reflections. I hope you join us in person in Victoria, B.C, or Prince George, B.C, or via livestream on February 13th, 2019, and make the pledge to end violence against women and children.
Paniguvluk, Stephanie Papik is of Inuit and Irish ancestry and has been a visitor to Lekwungen territory on Turtle Island for most of her life. Stephanie is blessed to honor her ancestral routes of both lineages through circle. She uses circle in her personal and professional life as a tool for self-governance on an individual, family and community level, and as a tangible and impactful way to create the heart, mind perspective and culture shifts that enable the process of Reconciliation in British Columbia, Canada. Stephanie is grateful to share the gifts the Creator generously provides, and to share the ancestral teachings that have been passed on to her.