Canada | Opinion

Carly McIntosh: Native #BoysWithBraids carry on our traditions






Michael Linklater of the Thunderchild First Nation started the #BoysWithBraids campaign in early 2016. Photo from Boys With Braids

The #BoysWithBraids movement is growing across Canada. Carly McIntosh has more on an effort to protect young Native boys from bullying:
In Thunderchild First Nation, in what is known today as the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, many young boys get bullied for following their native culture by letting their hair grow long, slowly, and then formed into braids. After a youth is continuously teased and harassed in school for a while, he succumbs to the pressure and slices off his braid of hair. Then guilt comes into play, along with the feeling that he has gone against his own cultural beliefs and that the others have won.

The long braid of a First Nation’s male symbolises many things: strength, wisdom, identity and culture. Most important, it honours ancestors. Recently Michael Linklater, a Thunderchild First Nation father, saw that his two sons were being bullied in school for their hair. After he heard that many other young boys were also being bullied and teased, Linklater organized a campaign called Boys with Braids. Having once been disrespected in school for his braid himself when he was young, Linklater now is not afraid to stand up for his cultural beliefs and give strength to the young who are in need of it.

In a short time the campaign of Boys with Braids has been taken to two cities across Canada, but many cities in Canada will be seeing them in the future.

Read More:
Carly McIntosh: The Braid of a First Nations' Boy Symbolizes Strength and Our Culture (Indian Country Today 11/27)