Indigenous artwork titled "My spirit is home", a mix of beautiful colours, fluid lines and shapes
BrotherlandImage by: Jackie Traverse
Indigenous artwork titled "My spirit is home", a mix of beautiful colours, fluid lines and shapes
15 June 2022

Brotherland: Honouring the Warrior Within

3 minutes read time

In every continent in the world, Indigenous peoples are among the most marginalized, impoverished members of society. Compared with the general population, Indigenous peoples continue to experience considerably higher rates of mortality, morbidity and preventable diseases. When it comes to mental health, the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that Indigenous men are at greater risk of depression and suicide compared with the general population. In certain areas of Canada, rates of suicide among Indigenous males are 40x the national average.

Social isolation, or lack of social inclusion, remains a significant risk factor for poor mental health and suicide.

Brotherland exists to change this. To slow and gradually reverse rising rates of poor mental health and suicide among Indigenous men and boys through evidence-based, Indigenous-designed, led and evaluated programs that focus on increasing social connection, reclaiming and celebrating Indigenous cultural heritage and identity, and fostering a sense of belonging, pride and purpose.

Created in collaboration with Indigenous knowledge keepers and artists in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where Movember’s Indigenous programs currently operate, Brotherland’s branding is designed to represent the depth and diversity of Indigenous cultures and communities across the world. Movember worked closely with Ed Azure, a Cree Traditional Knowledge Keeper to name the program.

" Indigenous naming is at the heart of who we are as a people. A name represents what we are, our purpose and our connection to the people, land, elements, and the beings that walk among us. "

“This naming started when I was approached by Sonia [Director of Indigenous Programs at Movember] with tobacco, requesting that I consider taking up the task of naming Movember’s Indigenous portfolio. This is the traditional way we approach Elders with a request.

I took the request into a sweat lodge that I run on the banks of the Red River. This river has historical meaning for our communities as many lived, travelled and traded on its shores. In the sweat, the Pipe was smoked, and the prints Sonia gave were offered in prayer. By the second round, the name had come: ‘NAPAKANAK’ (pronounced nah pay gan uk) meaning ‘warriors’. It must be understood, though, the Cree warrior is a defender of peace, they opt for peace over conflict. They are providers and protectors. They understand and value that peace requires greater fearlessness, strength, wisdom and resolve than does the expression of violence.

‘Honouring the warrior within’ speaks to the reclaiming of the traditional role of men, acknowledging that a warrior must be a peacekeeper. Real leadership requires people to hear each other and strive to better understand each other. Men must be nurturers and providers. This is a part of our blood memory; it is a part of who we are as honourable people.”

- Ed Azure, Cree Traditional Knowledge Keeper from Kinosao Sipi (Norway House) Cree FN

The colours and artwork, titled “My spirit is home” were brought to life through close consultation with both Ed and Indigenous artist Jackie Traverse. “The early stages of this painting started as the tipi (home); the red half circle is the mother’s womb and represents the sweat lodge. Fluid lines and shapes are the human cells and spirit of the people; other elements are water, air, roots and veins, feathers and braids. It’s abstract, but it represents a person finding inner strength, culture, way of being, and being okay with oneself”, shared Jackie.

The colour palette was chosen to represent the four directions, a fundamental Indigenous teaching: north, south, east and west. Meaning can vary across cultures and groups, but all are intrinsically linked by their connection to the notion of balance, relationships and harmony. The colours also represent the global Indigenous people of the world, with blue signifying the water that connects them.

Learn more about our collective of Movember-funded mental health programs for Indigenous men and boys here: