As he looked around the room at some of his fellow staff members on Friday morning, Ralph Eldridge noted that some of them have young children and some have older children.
“The world has changed so much since we grew up and I guess the shape of the pressures that they’re under and the way they see violence and bullying is so much different than we did with social media,” he said.
Eldridge is the director of service Qalipu with the Qalipu First Nation Band. He was among a group of staff members, representatives of the Qalipu Cultural Foundation and officers with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary who gathered in the community room at the band office in Corner Brook for the local launch of the Moose Hide Campaign.
The campaign, which started in British Columbia in 2011, is a grassroots movement of aboriginal and non-aboriginal men who are standing up against violence towards women and children.
By pinning a small patch of moose hide to their clothing men signify their commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children in their lives and to work together with other men to end violence against women and children.
For Eldridge addressing the issue involves talking about it.
“It comes down to communication with your children and having that relationship so that they can speak to you honestly and openly and just be able to talk to you about anything.”
The band and the foundation are driving the Moose Hide Campaign in Newfoundland.
“It’s important that we respect and protect the children and the females in our lives. They are the life givers,” said Mitch Blanchard, the band’s resource co-ordinator and employee liaison with the foundation.
Blanchard wears his moose hide pin everyday. Being out in public through his role with the band, Blanchard said he wants to bring awareness to the issue.
And as someone with two sons he wants them to ask questions and to bring awareness as well.
Blanchard said the dialogue about violence against children and women needs to happen and a level of trust needs to be built so that people know they can reach out and that there are supports in the community.
The band has already distributed most of the first 500 moose hide pins that it ordered and has another 500 on the way.
The RNC is a partner in the initiative and during the launch Supt. Pat Roche was presented with a pin for himself and some to take back for members, who he said will be wearing them.
“They’re lot of times the first responders, we want people to know they can be trusted and they are here for us as well,” said Blanchard.