Esk'etemc (Alkali) Elder Fred Johnson designed Commitment Sticks to signify the sacred responsibilities we have for the health and safety of our Indigenous women and girls, as well as to remind us of their infinite value. The act of picking up a Commitment Stick symbolizes a personal and professional commitment of time to help eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls. A lot of prayer and ceremony goes into the creation of a Commitment Stick; they are also meant to help us cleanse our minds, bodies and spirits of any violence we may have perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls.
One venue where Commitment Sticks were publicly picked up was at Gathering Wisdom in 2015. Over 120 Chiefs and leaders held the sticks high and committed to live violence free, and to collectively work together to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls. They acknowledged that honouring our women -- our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, partners and nieces -- will bring balance back into our lives and ensure healthy and strong families and communities into the future.
The colours of the Commitment Stick represent the need for the four races to work together to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls, with an understanding that we are all equally valuable. With the red, we honour and mourn our murdered and missing Indigenous women; with the yellow, we honour our breath of life; with the black, we honour our body; and with the white, we honour the knowledge and wisdom of the Elders.