Break the Silence: Be the Change is a community-based project aimed at changing community dialogue and awareness around sexual violence.
The project builds on research that nine young women and six young men (aged 16 – 22) from Eskasoni have carried out. This participatory action research began in 2016 as part of the Networks for Change and Wellbeing project. Drawing on these findings, we have designed a project that is aimed at initiating conversations around relationships, community and violence as it relates to sex, sexuality, and sexual violence.
This youth-led initiative brings a critical and fresh insight into the causes of sexual violence and constructive, relevant ways of addressing the issue. It does this by developing an understanding of sexual violence against girls and young women in Eskasoni today, from the perspectives of both men and women. Simultaneously, it accounts for the historical backdrop of colonization, intergenerational trauma and continuing legacies of socioeconomic marginalization.
The project has two components: the first is to continue the research; and, the second is to share the findings through community-based activities. Specifically, the intent is to use these activities to generate conversation throughout the community about sexuality and sexual violence, re-establishing community networks and supports around this topic; and, reassert healthy understandings of masculinity, femininity and sexuality within the community.
We’re from the community of Eskasoni which is located on Cape Bretton Island, within the Unama'gi district of Mi'kmaq territory. The district is located across the province of Nova Scotia in Atlantic Canada. The community has approximately 4355 people and is the largest Aboriginal community in Atlantic Canada. Our community struggles with the legacy of colonialism and settler government legislation aimed at cultural genocide. The intergenerational trauma experienced by the community is reflected in significantly higher rates of mental health concerns, substance abuse, suicides as well as domestic and sexual violence.