Fans at the Trail Smoke Eaters home game on Friday will be asked to wear white ribbons, which will be given out by members of the local VAWIR (Violence Against Women in Relationships) committee.
You may be wondering what the white ribbons represent, and why now?
With Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence Against Women nearing on Tuesday, Dec. 6, the White Ribbon Campaign is a simple but powerful way to recognize the profound weight of Dec. 6, and to remember all women affected by violence and to reflect on what can be done to help end that violence.
“Both offer a chance to think about what individuals and the community can do to help create a culture of respect so as to end abuse of women in all forms,” says Ann Godderis, member of Lower Columbia VAWIR.
Possible actions might include something as simple as refusing to laugh at sexist jokes, making sure someone gets home safely, learning about and supporting local anti-violence services or wearing a white ribbon and telling others what it signifies.
Besides handing out white ribbons and raising awareness about Dec. 6, between periods at the Friday night game, Trail RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich will briefly speak about the campaign’s importance to the local community.
“As the police leader in the community, I want us to work together to eliminating and reducing violence and sexual violence against women by being knowledgeable about this issue, knowing what we can do in our daily lives to recognize it, and taking action when required,” Wicentowich told the Trail Times. “I am asking men to talk to the women in their lives about the acts of violence and sexual violence that those women have experienced.”
It is not a problem that happens “out there somewhere,” he said.
“Violence and sexual violence against women happens all around us, affects everyone, and can be inside our own homes.”
Help and support is available to anyone experiencing violence and sexual violence. Trail and Greater District RCMP is working with other groups to reduce the barriers when reporting, for whenever a victim is ready to come forward.
“We are prepared to work with any victim who can decide on how they want to proceed, and support them through RCMP Victim Services, and other community partners.”
The victim can report directly to police, through a third party, or can attend the hospital to complete a forensic sexual assault examination kit without having to contact the police.
“We are here to listen and support, and move forward when victims are ready,” the sergeant shares.
“We cannot prevent all future tragedies but we want to try as hard as possible to prevent this from ever happening again.”
This year there will be no public vigil on Dec. 6 in Trail. The city, however, will recognize the day by flooding the Victoria Street Bridge in red lights.
Advocates encourage individuals and groups to go to the Trail FAIR website or Facebook page and spend some time reading through a reflection on the significance of the day and making a commitment to positive action to help end violence.
It has been over 30 years since the murder of 14 young women at Polytechnique Montréal (Dec. 6, 1989). This act of violent misogyny shook the country and, in 1991, led Parliament to designate Dec. 6 as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
On Dec. 6, we remember: Geneviève Bergeron; Hélène Colgan; Nathalie Croteau; Barbara Daigneault; Anne-Marie Edward; Maud Haviernick; Maryse Laganière; Maryse Leclair; Anne-Marie Lemay; Sonia Pelletier; Michèle Richard; Annie St-Arneault; Annie Turcotte; and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.
Also in 1991, a group of Ontario men formed the White Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of male violence against women. Today, the campaign is active in over 60 countries and seeks to promote healthy relationships, gender equity, and a compassionate vision of masculinity.
More recently, the 2019 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girl’s Inquiry led to a deeper understanding of the violence and trauma experienced by generations of Indigenous women and children. Sadly, as Godderis shares, the implementation of effective necessary actions to prevent the violence is still lacking.
“Recently, however, the federal government has come out with a National Plan to End Gender Based Violence and hopefully it will be implemented across the country, with sufficient resources so significant change can start to occur,” Godderis said.
Most pressing is the need to offer more effective communication and dispute resolution tools to children and youth, she adds.
“Making accessible counselling and supports available to men who recognize they are causing harm and want to change their attitudes and behaviour towards women should also be a top priority.”