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“Make it our business – time for change”: Alexandra Lysova shares research on domestic violence at Indigenous community's awareness campaign
“Make it our business – time for change” is the slogan attached to a recent three-day event (Aug 28-30) organized by the Meadow Lake Tribal Council’s (MLTC) family wellness outreach program. Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) School of Criminology associate professor, Alexandra Lysova, an expert on men’s victimization within intimate relationships, was invited as an official speaker to raise awareness about domestic violence and the impact it can have on people and communities.
The Meadow Lake Tribal Council represents nine Indigenous governments in the province of Saskatchewan, which according to Statistics Canada’s most recent data, has the highest rate of reported intimate partner violence among all provinces, and more than double the national rate. Given these grim statistics, and because many tragic deaths happen specifically in Saskatchewan’s Indigenous communities, the council decided to break the silence by organizing this awareness campaign.
Lysova was specifically invited to talk about her expertise in men’s victimization within intimate relationships. She discussed men’s experiences of partner violence, the nature of the violence and abuse experienced by men in their intimate partner relationships, and the help-seeking experiences of male victims. Lysova’s research addresses many of these issues, which she shared with the community through an hour-long presentation and a panel discussion with community members. “It was a very important experience for me,” she says. This was Lysova’s first family violence awareness campaign of such extent in this Saskatchewan community. Many local leaders, tribal chiefs, chiefs of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), members of Parliament, and members of non-governmental organizations in Saskatchewan such as STOPS to Violence, and PATHS, gathered together to discuss the issue of family violence and how the communities could better address it.
“I’ve been impressed by how inclusive these communities are in discussing family violence from a comprehensive ecological and gender-inclusive approach,” Lysova says. She is grateful to all the individuals who had the courage to share their experiences and was touched to see how the elders and other community members offered support. Prayers for healing and drum dances throughout the campaign also helped to strengthen and support the sense of community.
While it was not her first experience sharing research with the Indigenous communities in Canada, Lysova describes the event as impressive and the opportunity as an honour. “I agree with the organizers who believe that events like these will undoubtedly begin to create waves of change in our families and the community at large," she says.