September 25, 2020

BY MATT HOWELLmhTBTN1

Their message was loud, concise and clear; violence against women, children and the transgendered needs to stop.

An opening rally was held in front of Kitchener City Hall Sept. 25 as part of Waterloo Region’s 31st Take Back the Night event. Some of the streets were blocked off and filled with a massive crowd of women of all ages marching and carrying signs with messages of strength.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 just over 173,600 women aged 15 and older were victims of violent crime. That’s 1,207 victims for every 100,000 women in the population.

Take Back The Night originated in the 1970s in the United States. One of the first marches took place in Philadelphia in response to the killing of Susan Alexander Speeth, a microbiologist, who was stabbed to death while walking home one evening.

Since then, marches have happened every year with 30 countries now hosting their own rallies and events to bring awareness to this sad but very real part of life. And, for the first time, Conestoga was involved.

Laura Black, an event planner with Student Life, was the one who organized Conestoga’s inaugural event.

“Take Back The Night at Conestoga College really means coming together as a community to build community. So we are coming together to march, rally and support ending violence against women, children and trans-individuals in the community,” Black said.

Wilfrid Laurier and the University of Waterloo have been involved in past years, and now Conestoga has become part of this event that is bringing to the forefront the need for action and change.

“It’s still early on in the term, and I’m hoping we can reinforce our Respect Campaign values, which are building a welcoming, inclusive and respectful campus,” Black said. By building healthy relationships and promoting ending violence, those are all things that will hopefully contribute to building that community at Conestoga College.”

A large number of people from all over the tri-cities came out for the event, which included performances from female singers, an all-woman drum group, a workshop for male allies and the march.

Sara Casselman, public relations officer for the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, which organizes the event, was all smiles looking around at the massive and lively crowd of attendees.

“It’s an amazing turnout and we couldn’t be happier by this support,” she said.

For more information on the Sexual Assault Support Centre, Take Back The Night or other upcoming events, check out the centre’s website at www.sascwr.org. And if you or anyone you know might be experiencing violence, contact their 24-hour crisis line at 519-741-8633.

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