Castlegar’s 15th annual Take Back the Night march took place Thursday, evening.
Approximately 40 people of all ages participated in the police escorted march from Canadian Tire to Safeway.
The event is a joint effort of the Castlegar and District Community Services, the RCMP Victim Services and the Violence against Women in Relationships committee. Similar marches have been taking place world-wide since the 1970s.
Organizer Lora Plotnikoff said her goals for the event were, “To bring awareness to the community in regards to violence against women and children and to make our streets a little safer for everyone.”
Fellow organizer Kristein Johnson added, “The goal is to promote awareness education. It makes for a great community event and brings people out.”
The rally at the end of the march in the Safeway parking lot included hot chocolate, cookies, speakers and even some entertainment.
The rally began with Shemmaho Goodenough performing a first nations song for women followed by a minute of silence in remembrance of the women who have suffered from violence. Next up was Sandra Moran, a prominent Guatemalan feminist and performance artist. She performed a poem accompanied by drumming encouraging women to “Rise up!”
Bud Godderis, representing the group Men Speak Out, gave an emotional and passionate speech.
“I want to acknowledge each of the women here…. You are so important and dear to us…Forgive us that we do not treat you with the respect and love you deserve… Men, please look deep within yourselves and learn to speak out in favour of those who have given us life.”
A dance was presented by a local group of ladies who are part of a larger international movement known as Shimmy Mob. The group performs flash mob style dances to raise awareness about violence against women and to raise funds for local women’s shelters.
RCMP Constable Ron George stated in his speech, “As a society, we need to take on the responsibility to be examples to our kids, to our families, to those around us to show what love in a relationship looks like. It’s not with a push, it’s not with a hit; it’s with hugs, with support, with compromise. We need to support our victims and come up beside them, help them to have a voice when they don’t have one so that we can end violence in relationships.”
The rally closed with musical offerings by the Robson Choir duo Seize the Night.