This website is part of the Kanawayhitowin Campaign to address woman abuse in Indigenous communities across the province of Ontario, Canada. The Kanawayhitowin website has been created to support women experiencing abuse, families, communities and front line workers to better educate themselves with resources and strategies. To engage and unite communities around the seriousness of this issue, and hope for the healing of future generations.
The Kanawayhitowin campaign was created with the involvement of many people. We would like to acknowledge the Indigenous Expert Panel members who committed their time and voice to ensure this resource was respectful of all Indigenous women who have endured abuse throughout their lives.
Panel Elder, Pauline Shirt
Panel Chair, Terry Swan, Programme Manager, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
Gloria Harris, Executive Director, Marjorie House, Marathon, ON
Patricia Messenger, Health Services Coordinator, Metis Nation of Ontario, Windsor, ON
Patricia Jurivee, Executive Director, Beendigen Native Women’s Crisis Home, Thunder Bay, ON
Darlene Ritchie, Executive Director, At^losha Native Family Healing Services, London, ON
Doris Warner, Field Support Worker, Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres
Special thanks to our Elder, Pauline Shirt, who guided us in the creation and spirit of this campaign, and who reminded us of the sacredness and beauty of every spirit. Our hope is this initiative will contribute to the movement of change in every Indigenous community and will clear a path for a better future for all Indigenous women, young and old.
The Neighbours, Friends and Families initiative and Indigenous campaign are partnerships between the Ontario government, Ontario Women’s Directorate and the Expert Panel on Kanawayhitowin through the Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children.
“The Kanawayhitowin logo reminds us of the sacredness of women according to the teachings of our 13 Grandmother Moons and as caretakers of the earth we have a responsibility to take care of each others spirit.”
—Pauline Shirt, Grandmother
One Woman’s Story
I was in a room and I saw a man standing there. As he stood there I saw this evil spirit move from one end of the room to the other, moving quickly in and out of this man. I felt scared. I left that room and entered another. In this room there were sparkles and they were like magic. I could feel the sparkles all over my body and I found myself at this window and I began to float. I was suddenly floating out of the window, and I was not alone, someone was with me and we were both flying. We were high in the sky, amongst the stars, we were happy flying together. We held hands as we flew and we could feel the wind and magical energy all around us. Suddenly she was injured and she was beginning to fall. I was holding her and trying so hard to keep her from falling. Her leg was hurt and she could not fly anymore. I tried to hold on to her hand but I couldn’t, and suddenly she was gone. I felt so empty and so alone.
This was the dream that I had the night before my parents were murdered in their home on April 9th, 2006 in the small community of Nipissing First Nation. My mother and I were spiritually connected and when I woke up from that dream I didn’t realize, until hours later, that it was my mother and I who were flying together. I realized that my dream was a premonition of the murder of my parents, Romeo and Yvonne (Bonnie) Laforge.
On April 9, a woman told her husband that their marriage was over and she would not be moving back home. He couldn’t bare the thought of losing her. He walked into the house and shot my parents, and kidnapped his wife, bringing her home where he planned on finishing what he had started. She escaped, but my parents did not.
Throughout that week we watched as the police investigated and sectioned off our home. We witnessed things that no community should ever have to witness. Three adult children, with children of their own, became orphans and their foundation was broken. The community and surrounding communities came together to offer their support and protection. Everyone was astonished, knowing that it could happen to them. It could have been their community, their parents, their grandparents or their brother and/or sister.
Kanawayhitowin: Taking Care of Each Others Spirit
In the midst of a crisis such as this, our communities truly do take care of each other. This is what I experienced that week. Now that I am healing and attempting to move forward, I see the need to encourage our communities to come together and use our strength in taking care of our own through education and training. Everyone must be made aware of how to recognize the signs of violence in our homes and communities and be prepared to know what to do to prevent a tragedy and crisis. I have vowed to the Creator to use my experiences to support and educate others to prevent violence from happening in their homes, communities and in our nation.
Through the Kanawayhitowin campaign, we may educate and provide our communities with the necessary tools to prevent disastrous incidences from taking place. I am honoured to offer my support to this campaign and to this vital toolkit, which will save lives and prevent others from losing the ones that they love.