Take Back the Night march and candlelight vigil will take place at the Oxygen Arts Centre on December 3.

Women take back the night

This year’s march on December 3 will also remember 14 women murdered in the Montreal Massacre.

While many think the West Kootenay is safe, the statistics show otherwise for women. Every year in BC there are over 60,000 physical or sexual assaults against women — almost all of which are committed by men.

A vigil and ceremony will be held at the Oxygen Art Centre on Wednesday, December 3  to honour the women killed in BC this year by their intimate partners as part of the annual Take Back the Night march.

Tribute will also be paid to the 14 women killed in the Montreal Massacre on December 6, 1989. This year marks the 25 year anniversary of more than a dozen female engineering students being singled out and murdered by an enraged gunman at the École Polytechnique.

Everyone is welcome to join the vigil at Oxygen beginning at 4:15 p.m.

Jenny Robinson of Nelson Cares (who worked with abused women some years ago) will perform a song she wrote about one particular client, plus “No Woman, No Cry”.  Mayor-elect Deb Kozak and councillors-elect Valerie Warmington and Anna Purcell will  be among the participants in an honouring rose ceremony and  Metis elder Donna Wright will provide drumming.

Women’s support worker, Theresa Swan will perform the rousing poem My Short Skirt,  written by Eve Ensler in The Vagina Monologues, as a prelude to the women’s Take Back the Night march which will wind through the downtown core of Nelson.

Take Back the Night walks by women have evolved from random small group protests to annual marches symbolizing women’s freedom of movement and ending sexual violence against women. The name sprung for the common warnings that women should be careful when walking alone at night.

Men will remain at the Oxygen Art Centre to view the Be More than a Bystander video by Jackson Katz and have a discussion facilitated by a Nelson Community Service Centre (NSCS) counsellor and Const. Dino Falcone (NPD). Marchers will reconvene at Oxygen for refreshments as well as some facilitated discussion on the issue.

Nelson Violence Against Women in Relationships Committee (VAWIR) is hosting this year’s event. VAWIR chair Anna Maskerine said, “Combining Take Back the Night and National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against women (December 6) causes us to pause and consider what is happening to women (and their children) in our province and in our community. This year, British Columbia saw a dramatic increase in the number of women murdered.”

Maskerine is also the program coordinator of the Aimee Beaulieu Transition House, which offers support services and shelter to women fleeing abuse in the West Kootenay.

“Nelson is not immune to the issue of violence against women; many women are being abused in relationships each day. Nelson has also had it’s own tragedy;  the murder of Aimee Beaulieu and her two children in 1992.”

“We often are at full occupancy,” said Maskerine referring to the transition house.  “This past year, during many months we have held a wait list.”

Newly-elected city councillor Valerie Warmington, who is executive director of Kootenay Kids Society encourages men to participate too.

“We’re dealing with families and often, with issues of domestic violence, it involves families with children. The problem is pervasive in the province through all levels of society.”

She said even with youth, there is gender based violence.

“We need to teach our children what healthy relationships look like,” said Warmington. “The newest research is showing that we need to start addressing it with children at a young age, under six, and right from the beginning because there are so many things are going against it. There are so many images in the media. Kids get these messages right from birth.”

She said violence is not talked about much in our society and “we don’t really make any substantial changes in how we do business.”

Roses from the December 3 ceremony will be moved from the Oxygen Art Centre to outside of City Hall where they will remain displayed.

Pictured: The ceremony will include a memorial to the 14 female engineering students killed in the Montreal Massacre 25 years ago.

The path along Vernon Street near the court house will be marked by 14 six feet high candle cut-outs symbolizing the women murdered in Montreal. Smaller silhouettes of women and children displaying statistics and facts about violence against women will wind along, leading the path to Oxygen.

Canadian statistics:

  • Only 12 per cent of sexual assaults against women are reported to the police. (Statistics Canada 2009)

  • One in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. (Statistics Canada. Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006)

Nelson Community Services Centre offers a variety of programs for individuals and families in the community out of three sites: 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.