Moose Hide Cam­paign reaches Cape Bre­ton

The Victoria Standard - - Community - CAR­OLYN BAR­BER

As the peace walk in sup­port of Cas­sidy Jean Bernard’s fam­ily and the com­mu­nity of We’ko­qma’q came to a close at Skye River Trail on Dec. 1, an un­ex­pected ges­ture from one male com­mu­nity leader to an­other helped spread aware­ness of a na­tion­wide cam­paign to end vi­o­lence against women.

Close to one hun­dred women, men and chil­dren united at the en­trance of Why­co­co­magh Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre to walk down Main St. Why­co­co­magh, then west on Hwy 105 to the Skye River Trail where they stood - arms raised, fists clenched – in sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port. Among the crowd was Cas­sidy’s mother, Mona, and her aunt, Gina Poulette.

Cas­sidy Jean Bernard, 22, of We’ko­qma’q, was found dead on Oct. 24 in her home with her healthy twin in­fant girls close by. Thus far, the RCMP have la­belled her death sus­pi­cious. On Nov. 20, We’ko­qma’q Chief and Coun­cil de­ci­sively is­sued a re­ward of $100,000 for “in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest and con­vic­tion of Cas­sidy’s mur­derer.”

“I felt the love, sup­port and friend­ship from the neigh­bour­ing com­mu­nity of Why­co­co­magh and all these res­i­dents that came out to­day to sup­port us,” said We’ko­qma’q Band Coun­cil­lor Cyrus Bernard, also sec­ond cousin to Cas­sidy Bernard. “That meant the world to me, to my com­mu­nity and to my fam­ily."

As the crowd dis­persed, Rev­erend An­drew Macdon­ald of Saint An­drew's Pres­by­te­rian Church pre­sented Coun­cil­lor Bernard with a pack­age. Inside were small squares of moose hide af­fixed to cards ex­plain­ing the mis­sion of the Moose Hide Cam­paign.

The Canada-wide cam­paign was launched from Bri­tish Co­lum­bia in 2011 by fa­ther and daugh­ter, Paul and Raven Lac­erte, fol­low­ing a moose-hunt­ing trip near the stretch of B.C. High­way 16 known as the High­way of Tears.

“We re­ally had a mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion to take that moose hide, tan it, cut it up into little squares and give it to men as an out­ward sign of our com­mit­ment to end vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren in this coun­try and as a prom­ise never to do vi­o­lence to the women and chil­dren in our life,” says Paul Lac­erte in a cam­paign pro­mo­tional video.

Rev­erend Macdon­ald has two young daugh­ters ages four and 16 months.

“They're my pride and joy and I couldn't imag­ine that hap­pen­ing to them or any­one else ever again. Hope­fully, we can end this vi­o­lence.”

Coun­cil­lor Bernard said he was pleas­antly sur­prised by Macdon­ald’s ges­ture and be­gan dis­tribut­ing the moose hide im­me­di­ately.

“I didn't know such a cam­paign ex­isted. I'm more than happy to pass these out and spread the mes­sage of non-vi­o­lence against women.”

Bernard says a huge change in mind­set is re­quired to turn the tide on vi­o­lence to­ward women.

“The role that men can play now is to lis­ten and stop the vi­o­lence. Men need to lis­ten to their women - their moth­ers, their grand­moth­ers - to stop the vi­o­lence. My mother, she played a very im­por­tant role in rais­ing me and my sib­lings and we all have the ut­most re­spect for one an­other, for our hus­bands, for our wives, and I al­ways will.”

The day prior to the peace walk, Bernard com­posed the fol­low­ing poem. Take a lady by the hand That's not hard to un­der­stand Nei­ther the wrist n'or the arm Un­less your in­tent is to harm For they be­lieved all will be well Un­aware there wasn't time to tell This jour­ney sadly be­gan los­ing you With the hope of find­ing those guilty few Truth be told I am bro­ken inside Please help us change the tide

“It's un­ti­tled. It's pretty sim­ple,” said Bernard. “I'd like to see it ti­tled 'Red Tide'.”

To fol­low the Moose Hide Cam­paign, visit moose­hide­cam­ or visit the Face­book page.

A com­pos­ite of two pho­tos from the Dec. 1 peace walk. A crowd raises their fists in sol­i­dar­ity, in­clud­ing We’ko­qma’q Band Coun­cil­lor Cyrus Bernard (third from left) and We’ko­qma’q res­i­dent Clif­ford Copage pic­tured on right. Pho­tos by Car­olyn Bar­ber / VS.

Rev­erend An­drew Macdon­ald has helped to bring the Moose Hide cam­paign to the is­land.

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