Global Indigenous Men's GatheringImage by: Pigeon Road
26 September 2022

Ray’s Story: The Strength of Coming Together as Indigenous Men

Ray Proulx
4 minutes read time

This past July, Movember invited men from each of our Brotherland programs to a Global Indigenous Men’s Gathering. Individuals from the Auckland areas of New Zealand, New South Wales Region of Australia; the cities of Winnipeg and Brandon, Rouseau River First Nation, Long Plain First Nation, and Birdtail First Nation; Tadoule Lake and York Factory; and Arviat, Nunavut came together in Churchill, Manitoba to share their stories, traditions, teachings, and learnings with one another. Ray Proulx joined us from the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre in Winnipeg, a Movember-funded Men’s Clubs Bros Group.

My mother was born in Churchill -- and my grandma, and grandpa, and uncles and some aunties. When I was around nine years old, me and my mother took a trip there to visit my uncle and my grandma. I remember going down by the bay on a hot day, and that it was beautiful, and walking by the water -- we could feel the cold air there. When I'm there, it feels like I'm home --like I belong there.

If I had to describe what the Churchill Men’s Gathering experience was for me, it was that even though we are separated by – how many miles across the water -- we all suffer from a lot of the same things that have been put upon us by colonization and our culture being taken away. But, we have that same bond of reclaiming who we are as Indigenous men.

The man I used to be, was in trouble with the law and on a path to nowhere growing up. I was lost, like a lot of youth. And I realized one day that I had to change my life if I wanted to have a good future for myself and my future family. I quit all the bad things that were holding me back, I started my own business, I met my wife and had children.

Being involved with my culture helped, believing in a higher power, the Creator, God, really helped me with my daily struggles. Growing up, I was introduced to my culture but I really didn't practice it as much. I actually practiced it more when I was in prison. I got more in touch with the spirituality of it and all the teachings, and it really put me on a journey of recognizing who I am and understanding what happened to our people, how reclaiming our culture is really beneficial to ourselves and to our young people.

If I could talk to myself back then, I hope I would have done it a lot sooner. But, that’s the way life is. Sometimes you have to live and learn, and sometimes you learn the hard way. And unfortunately, that’s the only way I learned.

I’m still continuing on that journey, trying to understand and learn from what’s being told to me from my elders. I love it. Learning from the other cultures at the gathering was very spiritual. All of us men, we have a fighting spirit and we’re coming back stronger than ever. All of us coming together made us all realize that we’re not in this alone. And that by perseverance and staying on the path, we can accomplish anything and we can pass that on to the next generation.

The most memorable moment from the gathering was the sweat with all of the men. Reason being that, when we’re in there, it's a place where we can be judgement-free and not have to worry about what people are going to think about us or what people are gonna say about us. There's just a spiritual experience about it.

I had a prophetic awakening in that sweat -- explaining to the other men about being good fathers. I spoke about how as men, sometimes we go quick to discipline our children instead of really listening to them and understanding what they're going through. Especially here in Canada, with children being missing, we need to understand that we have to be a little bit more gentle with our children, and not push them away, because that's when they go missing. We have to understand that as men we’re strong -- physically and mentally.

" But we have to be strong with compassion and be strong with understanding and strong with our love. "

As a single father of four daughters, I hope that I can instill in them that a lot of our people are still trying to recover from what happened to us and to be sympathetic. That if you can show love and compassion to somebody, that can really make their day. I just want to show them every day to be proud of who they are. And to understand that we may face a lot of trials and tribulations as a people, but together we're strong. Like the braid. One strand of hair is weak, but the three of them together are strong. So together we're strong and if we keep on going down that path, nothing can stop us.

Stay tuned for more stories from the Global Indigenous Men’s Gathering and learn more about our collective of Movember-funded mental health programs for Indigenous men and boys at