On February 14th, people gathered in support of the Annual Women’s Memorial March on Main and Hastings. After participating in ceremony, Elders and family members of murdered and missing Indigenous women emerged from the Carnegie Center into the gathering and accompanying drumming and song. The group slowly moved along the annual route, beginning at Main and Hastings, through Gastown and then east down Hastings, stopping at various locations where women were last seen. During the march eagles were seen circling above.
Members of the DUDES Club were present at the Women’s March to show their support. This support extended into the next day as five members represented the DUDES Club at the Moose Hide Campaign’s 7th annual Provincial Gathering and Day of Fasting.
The men gathered at 7am in front of Vancouver Native Health Society and piled into the van for the drive to the ferry. After boarding, there was reflection of the previous days participation in the march. The men also were focused on supporting each other through the long day of fasting ahead.
On deck of the ferry, the crossing was windy and brisk. Yet, the men took comfort as they gradually met others on the ferry that were also heading to the convention. The DUDES met a group from the Circle of Eagles Lodge Society. They joined together in song and drumming amongst the Islands, water, and sky. The men felt warmth in the knowledge they were not alone in their expression of support for women. Their hearts lifted and emotionally recharged they headed to the convention in downtown Victoria.
After the DUDES checked in at the conference center, they joined many other men, women and children to march toward the Parliament Buildings. One of the members of the DUDES Club took this opportunity to shake the hand of John Horgan, Premier of B.C.
At the steps of the Parliament Buildings the DUDES witnessed speeches from the Moose Hide organizers, Elders, members of parliament and other distinguished guests such as the founders of the Moose Hide Campaign and the Premier of B.C. Of particular note, for the DUDES, was the performance by the Butterflies in Spirit dance group that honours lost women through dance.
After a wellness break, the members of the DUDES Club joined other participants in workshops, which included: Reconciliation Dialogue by Reconciliation Canada, and The Power of Our Own Story - Men Returning to Our Traditional Roles in the Community by Glenn Patterson. The days hard work was wrapped in singing, drumming, medicine, ceremony, and protocol.
The highlight of the conference was the ‘fast breaking ceremony’, which included both men and women expressing solidarity and commitment to addressing violence towards Indigenous women and children. The fast breaking ceremony was followed by a light meal and guest speakers after which the DUDES retired to their rooms for a well deserved night of sleep.
The next day was met with a hearty breakfast and conversation about the workshops the day before. Some of the men chose to take a walk through historic Chinatown and explore the Parliament Buildings.
The ferry ride home was spent eating and reflecting on topics such as colonialism, the sixties scoop, residential schools, and how it affects their families and their own lives today. The men had a meaningful experience during this trip and with a revitalized sense of solidarity are now ready to share, in a good way, with the other men at the Vancouver DUDES Club.