More than a dozen women of all ages gathered to march down 9th Avenue North to take back the night.
“It feels good to get out on the street and make a statement,” said Linley McLean, director and outreach co-ordinator with the Golden Women’s Resource Centre.
“A statement that says violence against women is not OK.”
Take Back the Night is an international initiative where women march in solidarity to bring awareness to the continuing struggle for safety and respect. Since the 1970s women in North America and around the world have participated in this historic event, the first of which that was documented, occurred in Philadelphia in 1975.
“We have a right to feel safe,” said McLean. “I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always feel safe.”
The women, including two young girls, convened in front of the Dollar Store, and began marching down the street, holding up the signs they fashioned themselves, and chanting, as they made their way to the Post Office.
“I’m out on the street at night, on my way home, and I feel scared,” said McLean, talking about why it is so important for women to feel safe on the streets. She described how she felt fear when passing a group of men on the street, and would then feel a rush of guilt when she walked by without incident.
“It’s a strange combination… fear and guilt,” she said. “I feel afraid to walk alone at night. Then I feel guilty about it. They were probably nice guys.”
It is important to talk about these feelings says McLean, because the fear is not unreasonable.
“Even in our own community a man was just arrested for sexually assaulting two women. It happens. It doesn’t happen all the time, or to all people. But it happens,” she said.
After the march, which included a police escort, the women gathered in front of the post office for some art and performances, including artists Jane Doel and Marty Ryan’s Embodiment Project exhibit, and fire spinner Jocelyn Wilson.
“The art really resonates with the work that we do,” said McLean. “It fits in with our values. We’re really lucky to have them here.”
McLean says she is happy with the success of the event, and if nothing else, wants to impart one message.
“I want to leave people knowing that change is possible.”