CORNWALL, Ontario – A powerful group of women, alongside a handful of men and children, marched through city streets during the evening of Thursday, Sept. 20, chanting powerful mantras against sexual assault.
“No more silence, stop the violence!” exclaimed the group. “Whose streets? Our streets!”
“I think this is a great way to show that the community does care about things like, as much as it’s a hard topic to talk about, sexual violence. It effects everyone. One in three women will experience sexual violence and one in six men…it’s an everyone issue and I’m glad to see men, women and children at the event tonight,” said co-organizer Christine Piette.
“We’re here to stand together, refusing to be silent about sexual violence. We refuse to take responsibility for harassment, abuse, rape and sexual assault…only the perpetrator is responsible…we walk to celebrate the steps we are taking to heal and help those who are healing. We remember those who have died from sexual violence and to empower those who have survived,” said co-organizer, Stephanie Screech of CEIU Local 621 Women’s Committee.
Piette thanked representatives of the Women’s Committee who helped put together signs and inform the public about the event. She also thanked SASS for their continued support and feedback on hosting the march.
Prior to the march that departed from St. Lawrence College just after 7 p.m., speeches were made by various representatives of community organizations that strive to support local women who are survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and more.
A representative of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women of SDG&A discussed public education on consent and healthy relationships, while a representative of Diversity Cornwall spoke about how sexual orientation and gender identity play an often forgotten role in sexual violence. Nurses of the ASAP (Assault and Sexual Abuse Program) discussed hospital services available to survivors and Danielle MacNeil, Public Educator/Volunteer Coordinator of Maison Baldwin House, spoke about her agency’s safe have for women and children of domestic abuse, which does not solely occur with a partner.
“There are women who face a higher chance of being abused…while we are already facing enough (chance of) violence and assault being a woman, there are parties who are facing more of those challenges and we need to be aware of that and cognizant of that and make sure we are reaching out to those communities and make sure they feel safe and supported,” said MacNeil, referring to Indigenous peoples, women of colour and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Additionally, Susanna Neville, a sexual assault survivor, explained her story and why events like Take Back the Night are vital for members of the community.