The name of this initiative, Kizhaay Anishnaabe Niin, was offered by Sandra Kakeeway. It is the name of the Aboriginal Men’s Violence program in Thunder Bay. It was named by the Old Man, an Elder who recently has journeyed to the spirit world and who understood the responsibility of men and honoured men’s traditional role in family and community.
Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin (an Ojibway phrase) translates to “I am a Kind Man”, guiding us throughout this project to understand how to engage young people to speak out against violence and abuse toward women in Aboriginal communities and inform themselves of healthy and equal relationships.
This website is dedicated to all the young people in Aboriginal society today for they are our future. We are all involved in their development and are responsible for how our young people grow and expand into their full potential. It can be as simple as touching a young person’s life for one moment of one day, or listening to their stories or dreams that can transform a current life path of hurt and pain into one of self-reliance and responsibility.
It is our way to share the responsibility of learning and teaching within our societies even if a young person may not be a blood relative. We come from a community of close communal living which means in order to survive everyone lived as unique individuals committed to the whole community at large. Role modeling was very important and males were shown acceptable behaviour for being in harmony with community; this involved accountability (being responsible for actions) and being in touch with his environment (emotionally connected and being at ease with that connection). These ways were modeled to young boys by; male family members, fathers, uncles or grandparents, all older male community members took part in this learning/teaching relationship.
When we give this gift of self-reliance to our young men, we give the greatest gift of all. The ability to move in the world with ease and confidence and to know they can have a positive impact on their families, interpersonal relationships and be part of a community of change. This can be done by speaking up and patiently modeling positive and inclusive behaviour to our young men, or simply taking the time to be a friend to a young person. The knowledge we have only needs to be re-learned. It has been forgotten but not totally lost. This is how the leaders of tomorrow are built by starting here in our private circle of influence, watching as our influence ripples outward reinforcing those males of tomorrow who “Use their strength with responsibility”.
This initiative was created with the involvement of many generous people who have made the choice to speak up to end violence against Aboriginal women across Indian country. Their contribution was invaluable and to them we are grateful.