Protecting the Circle: Aboriginal Men Ending Violence Against Women

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

Another great project from Racialicious special correspondent Jessica Yee and her organisation, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network: Protecting the Circle: Aboriginal Men Ending Violence Against Women is a short collection of writings by Aboriginal men on how they can work to stop violence against women in their communities and beyond.

Jessica writes:

Along with the support of our partners, we have produced a short written collection of submitted works by Aboriginal men from across Canada. We would like to acknowledge them for all their remarkable contributions and commitment to ending violence against women, but also of recognizing the full spectrum of gender identity and self determination when violence is committed against all persons.

We invite you to download, read, share, and print this inspiring collection of Aboriginal men’s voices.

Below is an excerpt from Protecting the Circle by DJ Danforth, Oneida Nation:

Today in far too many of our Aboriginal communities across Canada and the United States,  families are being affected by the increasingly higher rates of violence and abuse against women perpetrated by men, leaving people to wonder why men could do such things. Colonization has certainly done its damage to our people, which is not to say that men don’t have the ultimate responsibility to make change. When you think about the time that our ancestors had suffered through colonization, it may feel like an eternity ago, but the fact is that colonization still exists to this day.

Colonization comes in many different forms – and one of the clearest examples came in the shape of residential, mission, and boarding schools. Although they were eventually closed (albeit not that long ago), the impact of colonization still remained in the minds of our ancestors, which has had long lasting intergenerational effects. This has lead to various types of culture shock when people eventually returned to their home communities because in essence, they were returning to a place that might have still practiced the same traditional way of life they were forced to forget. Coping mechanisms with drugs and alcohol ensued in many instances to try and block out the pain of residential school, but more often than not the drinking and drugging made the memories even more intense. Simultaneously, it led men to use violence, abuse and molestation in the family, just as they had learned in the schools. And the years that followed the closing of residential schools have not been much better for our communities, what with the sixties scoop and the continual removal of First Nations children into state care, land claims not being resolved, and extreme conditions of poverty both on and off reserve.

As men we hold a huge responsibility in helping to end violence against women. It is not solely the responsibility of women to take a stand against violence and abuse; we in fact hold the largest responsibility of all…

In present day society, it seems there are a lot of men who are confused about how to be a “good man”, because of the ridicule that we receive for wanting to come to a state of equality with women. When we act with any type of respect towards women we still hear comments like “who wears the pants” or “your leash is pretty tight”, but instead of feeling humiliated by these kinds of comments, it’s important to look on the other side and listen to what women say about men who believe in equality. For us in the Aboriginal community, it means coming to terms with the fact that colonization has had a devastating affect to our people – and looking at concrete ways to decolonize now…