The Beaded Tie Campaign is a new initiative bringing awareness about First Nations' Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men (MMIMB) and Boys.

Ohitika/Ogichidaa (Warrior) Wellness Coordinator Jason Gobeil of Dakota Ojibway Child & Family Services (DOCFS) says the program came out of the collaborative work within their men's program in creating more dialogue and support around the topic of our murdered and missing indigenous men and boys.

Jason Gobeil"When we started this program of creating supports and safe space for our men, we often look at what's happening on the forefront in the inquiry with our women," notes Gobeil. "But now that we're starting to put the supports out there for our men, we want to ensure that we're actually using this opportunity to open up dialogue within our communities, as well, for all of our families who have been hurt or touched by this topic. We know it's affected each and every one of us in all of our communities."

Gobeil explains this should allow for more support in their men's programming, and moreseo, for the work they're doing in establishing strong working relationships in our communities.

"This is the first one of us taking this to a new level," continues Gobeil. "I know that we've started this program a little more than a year ago through DOCFS. And as part of this work, one of the things that we see in all of our offices is a commemorative frame of a small red dress that really speaks to the impact of our murdered and missing indigenous women. So, when I started this work of delivering opportunities and land-based teachings for our men, I also looked at how we're creating more of a narrative and dialogue on the topic of murdered and missing indigenous men and how, through the work in prevention, now that we're creating safe space for men."

He says looking at Indigenous or non-Indigenous men, the lack of supports in communities is very real and doesn't often even exist.

"By doing this, we're opening up that conversation for our men and knowing that they have safe space in our communities," adds Gobeil. "But at the same time too, we want to ensure to the families that we also support in all of our communities that we're standing strong and united. We're not forgetting about the lives and the unfinished journeys of those men who have been murdered, and especially for those men who are still missing, because the search continues."

Gobeil notes that numbers in Manitoba and across the country don't really provide anything on murdered and missing indigenous men.

"A lot of it's really directed to homicide, to crime," says Gobeil. "So, how do we take that conversation a little bit more into the area of divulging into the stories of these men into really understanding the impact and to why they've either gone missing or have been murdered? We know that the evidence is out there shows violence is real. Lateral violence in our communities is very real in our First Nation communities and in our urban centres. But how do we keep the conversation going in understanding that we need to put supports in place for our men, we need to ensure that supports are in place for our families?"

He adds they want to ensure through governments that the search, the inquiry and the important topic of murdered and missing indigenous men is still on the table.

"Back when we were just taking a look at the information that was out there, Statistics Canada documented 745 indigenous female homicide victims and 17,150 Indigenous male homicide victims. You know that's 14 and 17 per cent of all female and male homicide victims in Canada. But more to that, one of the other big things that we truly saw was that Indigenous men are being really highly documented as a big percentage. And back with the numbers that were available to us in Canada between 1982 and 2011, 15,000 total murders took place. And out of those, 2,500 of them were murdered Indigenous people. Now 71 per cent of that 2,500 were men."

Gobeil says suicide rates among Indigenous men is also very high in Canada.

"The suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the leading cause of death for First Nations youth and adults up to the age of 44," says Gobeil. "The suicide rate for First Nations male youth is 126 per 100,000 compared to 24 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous male youth. So, we know the numbers are real. We see the impact happening through our families through our communities and through the stories that we hear. So, how do we act as community? How do we rise as community and stand united on the forefront of knowing we need to create more dialogue on this topic?"

The beaded tie is a counterpart to the red dress that symbolizes murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.

"When we saw that national inquiry report come out on our murdered and missing indigenous women, I know there was a lot of individuals at that time really pushing to see if we can get some advancements for our men as part of that inquiry," continues Gobeil. "Now, unfortunately, there was no room for that. So, we know that the dialogue is still missing out there from inquiries or from calls to action. However, we know, ultimately, that the numbers don't lie. And if we don't act now, if we don't look at the support programs that we're seeing, much like the Ohitika / Ogichidaa program with the DOCFS, we're going to continue to see the numbers rise."

This Friday, November 19, they're launching the campaign, and hope to see that as a time to come together to raise that profile to invite our guests to share those names of their men.

"To share those stories from their families -- to encourage others to continue the search, and to open up that book and to open up that conversation with our government officials, as well, to those that are really making decisions happen," adds Ohitika / Ogichidaa. "But largely, it's an opportunity for us to come together, raise that profile together and stand as united individuals looking to create more of a stance, more of a dialogue, and more of a narrative on our murdered and missing indigenous men's voice."

Keeshkeemaquah Centre will be the location of the local event this Friday between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

"We're inviting our families to come together to hear of this important issue to stand in solidarity for those that we've lost and to ensure that the support is there, especially for those families that continue their searches," says Gobeil.