A crowd of mostly women, joined by children and men, gathered at the Oxygen Art Centre on Wednesday evening in a vigil to honour women killed through domestic violence.
The event combined the Take Back the Night march and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in observance of the Montreal Massacre which occurred 25 years ago on December 6, 1989.
Anna Maskerine from Nelson Violence Against Women in Relationships Committee addressed the crowd and introduced Metis elder Donna Wright to started the ceremony with drumming.
“Drumming is the most healing thing,” Wright said. “The first drum we hear is our mother’s heartbeat. It brings us together and it calls in our ancestors.”
MLA Michelle Mungall, mayor-elect Deb Kozak, outgoing councillor Donna Macdonald, and councillors-elect Valerie Warmington and Anna Purcell participated in the rose laying ceremony. Almost 20 roses were laid and names read out for each women killed by their partners in BC this year.
This year, Take Back the Night’s rose ceremony also included the 14 women killed 25 years ago on December 6, at École Polytechnique in Montreal. The Montreal Massacre is known to be an act of gender violence as the female engineering students were separated from their male counterparts before the gunman shot them.
People were invited to place a rose in memory of someone they would like to honour. Outside the centre, female portrait silhouette placards had startling statistics of violence against women like, “I am one of the 13 women and girls that are sexually assaulted in BC everyday.”
Dino Falcone of Nelson Police Department was there to show the departments support.
“We’re here to support this march and to support the group to remember what has happened in the past and what we can do in the future,” said Falcone. “We all have sisters, moms and daughters. We love them very much and we want to support them.”
A group of women then marched through downtown symbolizing the very act of taking back the night, in response to the common warning that women should be careful walking alone after dark.
The ceremony drew attention to the phenomenon of violence against women and the need for action. It also mentioned local resources offering hope for those in need of help. Nelson is home to the Nelson and District Women’s Centre, the first women’s centre in BC that is still thriving after 40 years.
The Aimee Beaulieu (AB) Transition House, which opened in 1995, also offers support services and shelter to women fleeing abuse in the West Kootenay. Victim Services offer advocacy as well.
Nelson Community Services Centre offers a variety of programs for individuals and families in the community at the AB Transition House, Cicada Place (housing and support service for at risk youth), and their main office where various counselling programs are housed.
Stopping the Violence counselling for women, children who witness abuse counselling, the Sexual Abuse Intervention program, women’s outreach, as well as family support and parenting are a few of the programs offered. For local information and resources, visit nelsoncommunityservices.ca or call 250-352-3504.